HARTFORD, Conn. -- Matee Ajavon scored 21 points and Rutgers (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 18 AP) came back to beat DePaul 63-55 Sunday in a Big East tournament quarterfinal.
Essence Carson added 18 for the Scarlet Knights (20-8), who made their fourth consecutive Big East semifinals. They will play either Marquette (No.19 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) on Monday night.
Rutgers used a 13-2 second-half run to turn a 42-40 deficit into a 53-44 lead and held off the Blue Demons the rest of the way.
"Veteran players hit clutch shots," Scarlet Knights coach C. Vivian Stringer said of the run. "That's what it's all about. Everybody can talk, 'I can do this and that' when it doesn't count ... but when you put your life on the line, it becomes another issue."
Both teams started slowly. DePaul hit just one of its first five shots and Rutgers was 2-for-8 from the field. The teams combined for seven turnovers in the first five minutes, and the game was tied 5-5.
The Blue Demons' 3-point shooting kept them in the game. They were 7-of-14 from behind the arc in the first half and used consecutive 3-pointers from Caprice Smith, Jenna Rubino and Missy Mitidiero to turn a 27-26 deficit into a 32-28 halftime lead.
But they hit just 2-of-12 from 3-point range after the break.
"When we stopped letting the dribble penetration and let them come open, and started contesting all the threes, it worked to our benefit," Carson said.
Mitidiero led four Blue Demons (19-12) in double figures with 14 points. Smith and Allie Quigley had 11 and Rubino added 10.
The Blue Demons finished the game with 25 turnovers, 16 in the first half. The Scarlet Knights were only slightly better with 22 total turnovers, 14 in the first half.
"If we could have a four-point lead at halftime with 16 turnovers, I thought we'd have a chance if we could just eliminate our turnovers and get some kind of offensive flow and continue to defend in the second half," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "We did not get that offensive flow, and that's because Rutgers kept us from getting it."
DePaul came in averaging eight 3-pointers and 21 attempts per game. Quigley, who scored 28 points in a first-round win over Notre Dame, was 0-for-7 from beyond the arc.
Kia Vaughn, who averages 13 points per game for Rutgers, was in foul trouble throughout and finished with four points and four rebounds.
DePaul freshman point guard China Threatt took a knee to her right eye with 15:10 left in the first half, opening a cut that kept her out of the game for 10 minutes while she received three stitches.
DePaul had won five of its last seven games coming in, and had defeated Rutgers 87-73 in their only regular-season meeting on Dec. 7.