Scores

Final

(1) Connecticut 71

(21-1, 8-1 Big East)

(7) Rutgers 73

(19-3, 9-1 Big East)

    7:00 PM ET, February 5, 2008

    1 2 T
    #1CONN 33 3871
    #7RUTG 24 4973

    Top Performers

    Connecticut: R. Montgomery 24 Pts

    Rutgers: E. Prince 33 Pts, 6 Reb

    Connecticut-Rutgers game blossoms into a top rivalry in women's college basketball

    Not long ago, top-ranked Connecticut considered Rutgers as little more than an annoyance on its Big East schedule.

    After all, UConn had won 17 of the first 18 meetings between the schools. It wasn't exactly a rivalry.

    "Rivalries mean they beat you and you beat them. A little bit antagonistic," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said Monday. "That wasn't there in the beginning. They were the new guys on the block and they had a lot to say and hadn't done anything."

    On Tuesday night, top-ranked Connecticut (21-0, 8-0 Big East) will travel to the RAC to play No. 7 Rutgers.

    In 2006, the Scarlet Knights won both regular-season meetings against UConn.

    "Two years ago, when they beat twice in the regular season, it took on those qualities that rivalries take on," Auriemma said. "You don't like losing to anyone, much less to someone you know can win the championship at the end of the year.

    "There are a couple teams in the league you have to beat and Rutgers is one of them. The atmosphere, the fans, the crazy stuff that goes on, and it has the makings of a classic 'you don't like us, we don't like you."

    Last season, the Huskies swept both regular-season games, including a 26-point victory at Rutgers on Feb. 26. But the Scarlet Knights went on to beat UConn a week later in the Big East tournament championship game.

    "We beat them twice last season and they beat us in the championship game," Auriemma said. "But even if we beat them Tuesday night, I don't think we get to bring the trophy home with us. It's still theirs."

    Rutgers (18-3, 8-1) came up short of winning the NCAA title last season, losing to Tennessee in the championship game. That fact is not lost on the Huskies.

    "I'd be jealous of any team that made it to the Final Four," UConn senior guard Ketia Swanier said. "I've never been there. I want to be there."

    The Scarlet Knights are motivated to play the Huskies.

    "For years, they have been our rival," Rutgers center Kia Vaughn said. "They are very athletic, just as we are. They are dominant inside and out, just like Rutgers. (It) will be a good game and a competitive one and it shows the caliber of both teams. It will basically come down to who is executing well and who wants it more. It's hard not to get up for this game."

    Rutgers has struggled this season to consistently play at a high level. The Scarlet Knights beat then-No. 6 LSU and No. 3 Maryland in an eight-day span in November and December before dropping a game against Duke.

    With its entire team back from last season, it's no surprise that the defensive numbers are still strong. Rutgers ranks third in the country in scoring defense (49.9) behind Connecticut (47.4) and LSU (49.3).

    However, the Scarlet Knights have lacked consistency on offense. They rank last in the conference in scoring offense (60.2) and 13th in assists and offensive rebounding. The Huskies are averaging 82.5 points.

    In the midst of playing their third ranked team in less than two weeks, the Scarlet Knights haven't been competing up to the standards of coach C. Vivian Stringer.

    They split games at No. 12 West Virginia and No. 15 Pittsburgh last week. After UConn, they play No. 2 Tennessee on Monday.

    "We're playing very tentative and scared," the Hall of Fame coach said. "We don't have any leadership."

    Stringer would like to see fewer turnovers by her team, which is averaging 15.2.

    "We don't respect the ball, we don't rebound, we turn it over, and we keep continuing to do that," Stringer said.

    Rutgers can't afford those miscues against Connecticut, which is beating opponents by an average of 35 points. Despite losing two starters to season-ending injuries, the Huskies have only allowed one opponent to come within single digits -- a 65-59 win at Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

    "Regardless of how they are playing previous to playing us, I never put much stock into if a team is playing well," Auriemma said. "When its us, they generally don't have problems playing their best game."

    ---

    Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford, Conn., contributed to this report.

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    Gameday Matchup

     
    CONN
    RUTG
    W-L32-124-6
    Avg Points81.560.4
    Avg Points Allowed51.151.3
    Home Record21-014-2
    Road Record11-110-4
    Current StreakW11L2

    School Info

     
    CONN
    RUTG
    Conference American Big Ten
    Nickname Huskies Scarlet Knights
    Type Public Public

    2007-08 Season

    DATEGAMELINKS
    » Feb 5, 2008 @RUTG 73, CONN 71Recap | Box Score
    Mar 3, 2008 @CONN 66, RUTG 46Recap | Box Score

    Starting Lineup

    CONN (PPG)
    RUTG (PPG)
    C  T. Charles C  R. Junaid
    F  M. Moore NA  E. Carson
    NA  B. Hunter C  K. Vaughn
    NA  R. Montgomery G  E. Prince
    G  L. Dixon NA  M. Ajavon