MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Cappie Pondexter passed 2,000 career
points, then made sure the celebration was a happy one.
Pondexter scored 22 points and became the second-leading scorer
in Rutgers history, leading the No. 8 Scarlet Knights to a 54-41
win over West Virginia on Friday night.
Rutgers (19-3, 11-0 Big East) survived an eight-minute scoring
drought spanning both halves for its 19th consecutive Big East win.
It is Rutgers' best league start since it won its first 11
conference games in 1998-99, when the team won the regular-season
Pondexter reached double figures for the 28th consecutive game.
She joined Sue Wicks (2,665 points) as the only players in school
history to surpass 2,000 career points.
"Pondexter is that good," West Virginia coach Mike Carey said.
"We just could not match her in man to man. She is the best player
in the country."
Rutgers scored 14 consecutive points to take a 22-6 lead with
7:41 left in the half. The Scarlet Knights held West Virginia
without a field goal for more than 11 minutes, then suddenly lost
momentum as WVU scored the final 16 points of the half to tie it at
22 at the break.
"Every game we have a period of time when we slack," Rutgers
coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "We grab teams by the neck and
choke them until they can't breathe. Then we start relaxing and my
blood pressure goes up."
The teams then traded leads four times in the first five minutes of
the second half before Rutgers went on an 8-2 run to take a 37-30
lead with 11:37 left. West Virginia never got closer than four
Pondexter reached double figures for the 28th consecutive game,
hitting her 2,000th career point on a jump shot with 6:40 left.
The bucket gave the Knights a 44-35 lead. Her 3-pointer a
possession later, part of a 9-0 run, put the Knights ahead 47-35
and sealed the game. Pondexter's third and final 3-pointer gave
Rutgers it biggest lead, 52-37, with 2:32 left.
"We need to attack to be successful," Pondexter said. "We
didn't do that, and they were aggressive. When you play aggressive
on defense it jump starts the offense."
The Knights, who lead the Big East in scoring defense, held the
Mountaineers to their lowest point total of the year.
The only Mountaineer to finish in double figures was Yinka Sanni
with 13 points. West Virginia shot 32.7 percent from the field.
Rutgers' Essence Carson finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds
for her first double-double of the year.
"They (Rutgers) had great looks all night," Carey said.
"You're not going to win many games shooting like we did
Rutgers is trying to become the first team since Connecticut in
2002-03 to finish unbeaten in the Big East. It has beaten four
ranked teams in its last six games and finishes with three of its
final five games at home.
Rutgers' three losses have come by a combined 13 points.