PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Essence Carson scored seven of her 21 points in the final 2:38 to lift Rutgers to a 63-57 win over Michigan State (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) on Sunday night.
The Scarlet Knights (12-6) won for the seventh time in eight games while handing the Spartans (15-6) their second straight loss to an unranked opponent.
Carson, who is averaging over 15 points in her last seven games, sat down with just over 9 minutes left because of foul trouble. She re-entered at the 6-minute mark with Rutgers trailing 55-51.
Carson later put back a missed shot to make it 55-54, then hit a 3-pointer to give Rutgers the lead for good with 1:57 remaining. The Scarlet Knights then sealed the win at the free throw line as Epiphanny Prince, Carson, and Matee Ajavon each hit both ends of one-and-ones in the final 32 seconds.
Ajavon had 12 of her 14 points in a second half that included three lead changes and six ties. Neither team led by more than six in the half.
Victoria Lucas-Perry led Michigan State with 13 points, while freshman Allyssa DeHaan -- who came off the bench after starting the first 20 games -- had 12 points and four blocked shots. Mia Johnson added 11 points.
Kia Vaughn had 14 rebounds, helping Rutgers to a 42-23 advantage on the boards that offset its 38.9 percent shooting from the field.
In the first half, Michigan State erased a 17-7 led with a 23-7 run over 10 minutes, and held a 30-24 advantage with two minutes left. Rutgers, though, scored the final eight points of the half to regain a two-point edge by intermission, and the game continued to go back and forth until Carson's late outburst.
Rutgers' victory avenged a two-point loss at Michigan State last year in the first meeting between the two teams.