2:00 PM ET, February 23, 2008
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer's 799th victory looked a bit different from many of her team's recent wins.With Mia McCurdy sidelined with a knee injury, Stringer had to get creative.McCurdy, Rutgers' most athletic player, anchors the fullcourt press and man-to-man defense, but she tore up her right knee in a win over Notre Dame earlier in the week. So on Saturday Stringer switched to a zone and the Scarlet Knights (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) beat Providence 62-43."We had not played zone at all -- for any period of time," Stringer said. "As a team, we look at our strengths and weaknesses and what we can do, and how we can maximize the people we have left. I was very pleased with the aggressiveness we showed playing zone."Stringer is trying to become just the third major women's college basketball coach to win 800 games. Tennessee's Pat Summit and former Texas coach Jody Conradt are the others. She'll get her first chance Wednesday when Rutgers hosts DePaul.Essence Carson scored 16 points, Kia Vaughn had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights (22-4, 11-1 Big East).Ashley Etheridge scored 12 points for the Friars (12-14, 2-11), who were coming off a 62-58 upset of No. 22 Syracuse on Tuesday.Rutgers built a 21-8 lead in the first nine minutes. Carson scored eight points during this stretch while six of Providence's eight points came on 3-point baskets by Brittany Dorsey and Kendria Holmes.Twice Rutgers forced Providence into long scoring droughts, one lasting 5:05 and the other 4:41.Vaughn's layup gave the Scarlet Knights their biggest lead of the half 37-14. But Providence went on a 7-0 run highlighted by Mi-Khida Hankins' two fastbreak baskets that cut Rutgers' lead to 37-21 at halftime.Even though Rutgers led by 20 points in the second half, Stringer still went to a full-court press for about 10 minutes with Heather Zurich taking McCurdy's spot."We went to a 55 not because we were trying to run the score up but because we need to see Heather get out on the front of that, to take Myia's place and to see if we had traps and how well we recovered in a game situation," Stringer said.Vaughn scored six points as Rutgers opened the second half with an 8-0 run for a 45-21 lead.Rutgers equaled its season-high with 13 steals, five by Matee Ajavon."They were stronger than us today and they were quicker than us," Providence coach Phil Seymore said. "They attacked our zone pretty good and made us come out of it."