Rutgers dominates Princeton, improves to 2-0

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- As one of only two seniors on a freshman-filled roster, Rutgers center Kia Vaughn knows coach C. Vivian Stringer's mantra better than anyone.

"Coach Stringer, her motto is 'Defense always,'" Vaughn said. "Offensively we're a different team than we've ever been, but it's still defense first."

Rutgers (No. 2 ESPN/USA Today, No. 3 AP) exhibited plenty of both Tuesday night in routing Princeton 83-35. Seven different players scored eight or more points, led by guard Epiphanny Prince's 15, as Rutgers (2-0) topped 80 points for the second straight game to open its season.

Rutgers also suffocated Princeton (1-1) defensively, holding its instate rival scoreless over the final 10:15 and to 20.8 percent shooting from the field.

The 48-point victory matched Rutgers' biggest win since beating Rider 90-42 on Nov. 20, 2004.

"We're not where we need to be defensively, but I think we've become more of an offensive threat," said Prince, who led Rutgers in scoring for the second straight game. "These first two games I think we've scored in the 80s and I don't think that's happened for a while."

Indeed, it's the first time Rutgers has scored 80 or more in consecutive games since midway through the 2002-03 season. The Knights broke the 80-point barrier just once in last year's 27-9 campaign, an 85-42 win over Robert Morris in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

"It was nice to see the numbers," Stringer said, scanning a stat sheet that showed her team shooting 55.2 percent from the field. "I'm not a big believer in scrimmaging much, so I had no way of knowing how many points we were capable of. But I did know we had depth and people that were athletic enough to give us points and that's the key."

Rutgers scored the first nine points and held Princeton scoreless for a span of eight minutes in building a 30-4 lead 12 minutes into the game. The comfortable advantage allowed Stringer to empty her bench, as all 12 Scarlet Knights saw action and 10 different players scored.

Rutgers' performance certainly made a believer of Princeton coach Courtney Banghart, whose team dropped its 12th straight to Rutgers in the series.

"Rutgers is a very good team," said Banghart, whose team lost by only five points to Rutgers last season. "That's definitely a better team than the one we played last year. And you wouldn't know it, but we're better, too."