PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Kia Vaughn was so sick, she had to take intravenous fluids before Rutgers took the floor.
The way she played Monday night against California (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP), it was hard to tell she wasn't feeling well.
Vaughn had 13 points and 15 rebounds to help Rutgers (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) beat Cal 56-51.
"She was a difference maker," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "She chose to make a difference in the second half and during that run."
Matee Ajavon scored 15 points to lead Rutgers (7-2). Brittany Ray added 11 for the Scarlet Knights, who ended Cal's four-game winning streak.
Ashley Walker had 14 points to top the Golden Bears (8-2). Rama N'Diaye and Alexis Gray-Lawson each added 12 for Cal.
Trailing 33-25 early in the second half, Cal went on a 13-4 run to take a 38-37 lead on Devanei Hampton's free throws with 13:47 left. The Bears made eight of their first 10 shots, but then went cold from the field, hitting only four of their final 18 attempts.
"We got good looks, they just didn't fall," Cal coach Joanne Boyle said. "We were getting 15-17 footers, Rutgers does a great job of scouting and forcing you out of your game."
Hampton, the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year, played in her second game this season. She had arthroscopic surgery on her right knee on Nov. 9 that forced her to miss the Golden Bears' first eight games. Hampton returned Saturday in Cal's 68-42 win at Princeton.
She finished with six points, playing just 19 minutes.
"She's only practiced for a total of 60 minutes over the last four weeks," Boyle said. "She's still working her way back. I can't be more excited going into the Pac-10."
Down by one, Vaughn scored six of Rutgers' next eight points as the Scarlet Knights built a 45-40 advantage. Cal used a 5-2 spurt, capped by Gray-Lawson's 3-pointer, to close within 47-45 with 6:35 left.
"I blame myself for not calling plays," Boyle said. "I knew it was going to be a game of possessions."
But the Golden Bears couldn't regain the lead as neither team scored over the next three minutes until Essence Carson's jumper with 3:32 left gave Rutgers a four-point advantage. Epiphanny Prince followed with a layup to put the game away as Cal didn't get closer than four the rest of the way.
For the second straight game, Stringer didn't use her usual starters. Coming off a disappointing loss at Duke last Thursday night, Stringer had benched her starting five on Saturday in a 59-42 victory over Army.
"One of the reasons I'm starting another group is so that they won't be stunned when I call their name to go in," Stringer said. "We'll see at practice who will start on Wednesday against Princeton."
One player who definitely won't start is Carson. The guard was 2-for-10 from the field and finished with four points. She is one short of 1,000 for her career.
Carson has been dealing with a foot injury. After Wednesday's game against Princeton, Rutgers is off for two weeks for exams.
"The break couldn't come at a better time," Stringer said. "She won't play Wednesday. It's not like her to not block out, chase after balls. She's not herself."
The Bears could only build a 6-3 lead against the Scarlet Knights' reserves. When the regular starters came in four minutes into the game, Rutgers took over.
Trailing 10-5 with 11:50 left in the first half, Rutgers went on a 19-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 24-12 advantage on Ray's 3-pointer. The Scarlet Knights scored 14 straight points during the spurt, including eight by Ray and six by Ajavon, who had consecutive three-point plays.
Gray-Lawson's 3-pointer with 5:42 left in the half ended the 3 1/2-minute scoring drought for Cal to make it a nine-point game. Rutgers led 30-20 at the half.