2:00 PM ET, February 4, 2006
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is starting to feel pretty good about her ninth-ranked Scarlet Knights.Cappie Pondexter scored 18 of her 27 points in the second half and Rutgers held off No. 13 DePaul 67-57 on Saturday.Rutgers (17-3, 9-0 Big East) held DePaul to its lowest scoring output of the season. The Blue Demons (18-5, 5-5) came into the game averaging 79.2 points but had trouble generating offense against the swarming Rutgers defense, which holds opponents to 52.2 points."We hadn't demonstrated to ourselves that we could play at a certain level, so this was nice," Stringer said. "This was a test. I felt much better (after this win)."The Scarlet Knights have won five straight and will visit No. 4 Connecticut on Tuesday. The winning streak includes three wins against Top 25 teams.Pondexter started slow, hitting just four of 10 shots in the first half. But the fifth-year senior from Chicago, who worked out against many of the DePaul players last summer, started finding the range in the second half and finished 9-for-21 from the floor and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.Pondexter was one of three Rutgers players in double figures. Matee Ajavon scored 18 points and Essence Carson finished with 16."We actually focused on getting stops and rebounding," Pondexter said. "And we definitely did that. There are signs of us peaking, and I think it will come at the right time."There were three ties and two lead changes in a sloppy first half as the teams were tied at 27 at the break. There were five ties and 10 lead changes in the first 14 minutes of the second half before Pondexter hit two free throws with about six minutes to play for a 52-50 Rutgers lead. Pondexter's foul shots ignited an 11-0 run as the Scarlet Knights (17-3, 9-0) increased the advantage to nine."We weren't very smart, which is a nice way to say we played dumb," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said.The Blue Demons got within six twice, but Rutgers hit six free throws in the final minute to preserve the victory.Allie Quigley scored 16 points, Khara Smith added 13 and Jenna Rubino 10 for DePaul.