Feb. 19, 2005
By TOM CANAVAN
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Chelsea Newton had 14 points and eight assists and No. 10 Rutgers posted its fifth win over a top 10 team this season with a 59-48 victory over No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday, snapping the Irish's season-high 10-game winning streak.
Cappie Pondexter added 13 points as the Scarlet Knights (20-5, 11-2 BIG EAST) stayed unbeaten at home (12-0) and moved into first place in the league, a half game ahead of Notre Dame (23-4, 11-3) and Connecticut (17-6, 10-2), which was to play Syracuse at home Saturday night.
Jacqueline Batteast and Megan Duffy had 14 points apiece to lead Notre Dame, which was held to a season-low point total by Rutgers' tenacious and physical defense. The previous low was 50 in a loss to Connecticut and a win over Marquette.
Rutgers forced 23 turnovers, including 10 by Duffy, Notre Dame's usually reliable point guard. The Irish didn't find enough open room to attempt a 3-pointer until Duffy launched an NBA-length 3 with 4:17 to play.
Still Notre Dame had a chance. Trailing 32-19 at the half after hitting only five field goals and shooting 25 percent, the Irish opened the second half with an 11-1 spurt by combining a box-and-one defense on Pondexter with a few good plays inside.
A layup by Courtney LaVere got the Irish to 33-31 with 15:05 to play, and it seemed they would get a chance to tie the game when Rutgers fumbled the ball in the final seconds of the next possession.
However, freshman Matee Ajavon managed to pick up the loose ball and threw in an off-balance floater. The basket started a 12-2 run that featured a steal and layup by Ajavon and a basket and 3-pointer by Newton, who had 12 points in the second half.
Pondexter was the difference in the first half, hitting all five of her field goals, including two 3-pointers, in helping Rutgers jump to an early lead it never lost.
Batteast, the BIG EAST's second-leading scorer, was 3-of-14 from the field. She also was cut above the right eye in the game.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame sees its 10-game winning streak snapped, losing for the first time since mid-January (67-50 vs. #16 Connecticut) ... Saturday's loss was only the second road defeat of the season for the Irish, who are now 10-2 away from the Joyce Center ... despite the setback, Notre Dame still has allowed only one of its 12 road opponents to break 60 points (Syracuse had 61 after a last-second bucket on Jan. 19) ... the Irish are 17-2 this season when they hold opponents to less than 60 points (9-2 in the BIG EAST); Notre Dame also is 146-9 (.942) in such games during the past 10 seasons ... in addition, the Irish have held their last seven opponents to less than 60 points ... Notre Dame posted season lows for points (previous: 50 on two occasions) and field goal percentage (previous: .345 at Boston College Feb. 15) ... the 23 Irish turnovers also matched a season high (also at USC Nov. 26) ... Notre Dame continues to be rock solid at the foul line, shooting .818 (54-for-66) from the charity stripe in the past three games ... junior guard Megan Duffy, the nation's second-best free throw shooter, has made 25 of her last 26 charities (including all four at Rutgers) and is connecting at a .919 clip this season (113-for-123) ... Duffy also posted her ninth 40-minute game of the season ... Notre Dame will now play again until next Saturday, Feb. 26, when it plays host to West Virginia at 2 p.m. (ET) for Senior Day; it will be the longest break for the Irish since an 11-day hiatus surrounding the Christmas holiday.