PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- C. Vivian Stringer moved into a
third-place tie for career coaching wins in women's basketball on
Thursday night by leaving nothing to chance in Rutgers' victory
Despite facing a team with only one win, Stringer chided
players, pulled them when they made the same errors, made sure
senior Cappie Pondexter got a little extra time and worked on all
phases of the Scarlet Knights' game in a 74-40 win.
Stringer took exception when asked why Rutgers (13-3, 4-0 Big
East) pressed late against the Friars (1-15, 0-5).
"Do you realize in the next four games we have Notre Dame,
Connecticut, Boston College and West Virginia," Stringer said
after picking up her 708th win and tying recent retired LSU Coach
Sue Gunter (708-308) for third-most in women's basketball.
"Our mind-set is not to see the opponent," Stringer said.
"It's only to compete against ourselves, to get better, and do the
things we need to do. That's the reason I was upset."
Stringer even admitted a game like this causes her more stress
than one against a ranked team. Rutgers (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today; No. 6 AP), which knocked off three
Top-10 teams earlier this season, has three more games with ranked
teams in the next two weeks.
"She is a Hall of Fame coach, she is a great coach," said
Pondexter, who scored a season-high 19 points. "She wants the best
and expects the best."
Michelle Campbell added 14 points for the Scarlet Knights, who
used a relentless press to force 25 turnovers and send Providence
to its 27th straight Big East Conference loss.
Freshman Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson also helped Rutgers
rebound from a loss to No. 3 Ohio State on Sunday by scoring 13 and
10 points, respectively.
Jill Furstenburg had 15 points and Shauna Snyder 11 to lead
Providence, which has not won a conference game since beating
Pittsburgh 57-54 on Feb. 8, 2003.
"In a season like we are having, you have to stay positive,"
Providence coach Susan Yow said. "They are young and you have to
be careful with them, mentally, how you handle things. I just wish
we could have competed a little better. It would have helped us
against other teams in the league who aren't as athletic."
Rutgers made sure the Friars were out of this one early, scoring
the first nine points and opening a 23-7 lead less than 12 minutes
into the game.
Campbell had six of the first nine points and Pondexter, who sat
out the first eight games of the season for undisclosed reasons,
The Scarlet Knights' press never let Providence get going. The
Friars turned the ball over in the backcourt on their first four
possessions, and they didn't cross midcourt until 17:52 was left in
the half. There was a stretch in the half in which Providence
turned the ball over on 7-of-8 possessions.
"They play hard," Yow said of Rutgers. "You can have
athleticism and you can be skilled, but they play so hard and I
don't expect anything less of her teams."
Rutgers led 34-14 at halftime, and it blew the game open in the
opening minutes of the second half with a 19-8 run that featured
nine points by Pondexter.
Pondexter's previous high was 16 in a win over then-No. 1 LSU.
Rutgers shot almost 52 percent from the field and held
Providence to 33.3 percent on 13-of-39 shooting.