2:00 PM ET, February 25, 2006
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Cappie Pondexter had a little help in leading Rutgers to another Big East title.Pondexter scored 23 points, while Matee Ajavon had 14 and Essence Carson added 10 in the Scarlet Knights' 65-50 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, clinching at least a share of their second straight regular-season conference championship.It marked the 23rd straight Big East win for Rutgers (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) (23-3, 15-0), which can capture the outright title and the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament with a win at home Monday night against Connecticut."Mat and E have been carrying us the last four games," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "If Mat and Essence don't show up and shoot the ball the way they have against those teams that are playing zone, by the time Cappie shows up we have been buried."Pondexter scored 15 of her points in the second half."We didn't think we were going to be able to limit Cappie," Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said. "I felt if Cappie, who is the second-leading scorer in the (Big East), if she got her average, wed have a chance."Pondexter came in averaging 21.2 and barely exceeded her average, but Rutgers still had four players in double figures. Pitt (18-8, 9-6) relied on Marcedes Walker, who had 24 points for Pitt (18-8, 9-6). The Panthers fell out of a third-place tie in the conference with St. John's and DePaul.Rutgers took control of the game early in the first half when it went on a 9-2 run for a 15-8 lead. Pitt closed the gap to 19-16 on a jumper by Mallorie Winn with 7:50 left in the half. The Scarlet Knights didn't relinquished the lead, going up 31-24 at halftime.Now they have a shot to win the league title outright."We want it by ourselves and I think the greatest test of them all is to play Connecticut at our place, last game on the line and they've got a chance to share it," Stringer said. "It's going to be crucial."