Jan. 24, 2006
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Matee Ajavon scored a season-high 28 points and No. 10 Rutgers held No. 21 Notre Dame to one point over the game's first 11 minutes in a 69-43 victory Tuesday night.
The win kept Rutgers (14-3, 6-0) one-half game behind No. 5 Connecticut in the Big East. The Huskies (18-2, 7-0) beat South Florida 77-47 on Tuesday.
Megan Duffy had 10 points for Notre Dame (12-6, 3-4).
Cappie Pondexter, the Big East's second-leading scorer at 22 points per game, had 20 for Rutgers, including 14 in the second half when she and Ajavon led a 32-6 run that put away the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame had clawed back from a 20-1 deficit to trail by only eight points at halftime.
Notre Dame made it 28-24 early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Breona Gray before Ajavon and Pondexter combined for 23 of Rutgers' 32 points over the next 8 minutes. Ajavon was one point off her career high, set last season in the then-freshman's second game, against South Dakota State.
Rutgers' suffocating defensive pressure forced 22 turnovers that led to 35 points.
Considering the way the Fighting Irish began the game, the fact they trailed only 26-18 at halftime had to be considered quite a feat. After Crystal Erwin's free throw 18 seconds into the game, they didn't score again until Duffy hit a 3-pointer with 8:42 left.
During that stretch Ajavon got the Scarlet Knights going with consecutive 3-pointers. Two jumpers by Michelle Campbell gave them a 14-1 lead, and six straight points by Pondexter made it 20-1 with 9:26 left.
The Fighting Irish scored the next 13 points, starting with a 3-pointer by Duffy and ending with an uncontested putback by Gray on which no Rutgers player bothered to box out.
Ajavon then scored on a three-point play and hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to double digits.