PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- It came as no surprise that a game that featured two of the best defensive teams in the country came down to a final stop.
Kia Vaughn scored 13 points to help No. 7 Rutgers hold off LSU (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) 45-43 on Sunday in a rematch of last season's Final Four.
"If you like defensive basketball, you really enjoyed this game," LSU coach Van Chancellor said. "I thought both teams were outstanding defensively. The difference is they made great plays down the stretch."
Trailing by one with 30 seconds left, the Tigers tried to get the ball inside to Sylvia Fowles, but Matee Ajavon doubled-down and stripped the ball from the All-American.
"I didn't see her coming," Fowles said. "When I put the ball on the floor she got her hands on it and took it."
Quianna Chaney, who finished with 16 points, missed a 3-pointer with less than a second left for LSU (4-2). Fowles finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Offense was at a premium. The Scarlet Knights shot only 38.6 from the field while LSU made just 36 percent. The teams combined for 39 turnovers.
"I think you got what you expected," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "Two of the best defensive teams in the country. Every point was fought for."
With the game tied at 42, Heather Zurich hit a jumper from just inside the 3-point line to give Rutgers (3-1) a lead with 2:14 left. Erica White hit one free throw on the other end to cut it to 44-43.
After Ajavon stole the ball, LSU fouled Epiphanny Prince and she hit one of two free throws with 9 seconds left. The Tigers had one last chance, but they chose not to call timeout and went for a 3-pointer instead of attempting to tie the game.
"I think we learned something," Stringer said. "I was proud that Epiphanny backed away and was nowhere near Chaney's 3-point attempt.
Prince had fouled Stanford guard Candice Wiggins with a tenth of a second left in Rutgers' 60-58 loss to the Cardinal in the season opener.
While the roster for both teams remained essentially the same since Rutgers beat LSU 59-35 in the NCAA semifinal in April, the Tigers have a new coach in Chancellor, who led the Houston Comets to four WNBA titles.
Sunday's game was more what people were expecting when the team's met last April.
"I'm proud of our team," Chancellor said. "We responded after being beat by 24 points last year."
Fowles was much more active Sunday against the Scarlet Knights, who had limited her at the Final Four to just five points on 2-for-10 shooting. Despite being constantly double-teamed, Fowles equaled her Final Four total midway through the first half.
She became the sixth player in women's college basketball history to dunk, doing it in LSU's 72-37 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday. Fowles tried to dunk again early in the second half on the break, but the ball clanged off the back of the rim to the delight of the crowd.
"I tried to throw one down, but didn't have full control of the ball," said Fowles, smiling.
The game featured two of the best post players in the country in Fowles and Vaughn, who were constantly battling inside.
"It's the most physical matchup I've seen in my 11 years of coaching," Chancellor said.
The two have a mutual respect for each other.
Rutgers jumped out to a 19-13 lead with 8:48 left in the half before Fowles scored six of the next eight points to give LSU a 21-19 advantage. Rutgers then closed the half on a 7-3 spurt to go into the locker room up 26-24.
The Scarlet Knights tough schedule continues with games against Duke (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) and No. 3 Maryland.