PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Freshman Matee Ajavon put on a show that
thrilled even the most decorated of her teammates in Rutgers' (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) 68-41 victory Tuesday night over Pittsburgh.
"She's just awesome," said senior Cappie Pondexter, a two-time
All-Big East point guard. "She's a great scorer, so strong and
confident on the court. You just enjoy watching her play."
Ajavon scored 12 of her 14 first-half points in a 16-3 run as
Rutgers (11-2, 2-0 Big East) rolled to a 22-9 lead. She added eight
points in a two-minute span in the second half when Rutgers was on
an 18-0 run.
Rutgers broke away from a
34-25 halftime lead with its pressing defense.
"It was important for us to play inspired against Pittsburgh,"
coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "We had to make sure we weren't
disarmed by a team we should beat. We have to be alert not to lose
The Scarlet Knights forced seven straight turnovers in one
three-minute span while outscoring the Panthers 11-0 and finished
with a season-high 27 takeaways in their sixth straight victory.
The Scarlet Knights had 18 steals, their best showing since
forcing 20 against Syracuse on Dec. 13, 1998.
Essence Carson, another freshman, added 12 points for the
Scarlet Knights. Katie Histed had 13 points for Pittsburgh (9-5,
The Scarlet Knights' biggest first-half lead was 28-14 with 4:40
remaining. Pittsburgh outscored Rutgers 11-6 in the final four
minutes of the half to cut the gap to 34-25 at the break.
Histed hit a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the second half
to cut the margin to six, but Rutgers turned on the press to
effectively put the game out of reach.
"This team is having fun," Stringer said. "It's just the
character and disposition of the team. They're an easy group to be
around and to coach."
Ajavon was not made available because Stringer does not permit
postgame interviews of freshmen.