PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer told Monique Oliver before the game to just focus on being aggressive.
The sophomore center listened and had career-highs of 21 points and 17 rebounds while April Sykes added 17 points to help Rutgers beat Georgetown (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) 70-53 on Thursday night in the Big East opener for both teams.
The Scarlet Knights dominated the boards, including having a 21-11 rebounding edge on the offensive end. They took 43 free throws compared to Georgetown's 18.
"We knew we had to outrebound them and needed to attack," Stringer said. "As key as it is that Monique Oliver had 17 rebounds, she was 15 of 21 from the foul line. That was a conscious effort to drive."
Trailing by 10 points in the first half, Rutgers went on a 34-10 run over the next 13 minutes to take a 52-38 lead with 12:39 left. The Scarlet Knights (6-3, 1-0) trailed 28-18 with 5:28 left before scoring the final 10 points of the half to tie it.
Sykes hit a 3-pointer followed by one from Nikki Speed that made it 40-33. After Rubylee Wright's 3-pointer cut the Hoyas' deficit to 44-38, Rutgers scored the next eight points. Oliver hit two free throws and Sykes made consecutive 3-pointers to give the Scarlet Knights a 52-38 lead.
Georgetown (7-3, 0-1) got within nine points, but Rutgers ended any hopes of a comeback, scoring 12 of the next 14 points.
"I thought Rutgers hit some big shots," Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "They hit some shots that they normally don't do."
Sugar Rodgers scored 19 points and Wright added 13 for Georgetown. The Hoyas have been inconsistent this season, beating then-No. 4 Tennessee and 21st-ranked Maryland while losing to Missouri and Miami. Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, Georgetown was ranked 13th at the start of the season, the first time the Hoyas were in the preseason poll.
"I think we dwell on our losses," Rodgers said. "We come and think about it at our next game."
Georgetown made eight of its first nine shots. Rodgers' jumper with 14:26 left in the half made it 20-10.
That would be the last basket the Hoyas would score for the next 8 minutes as they missed their next seven shots and turned the ball over. Rutgers couldn't really take advantage though, as they also went cold from the field, going without a basket for 8 ¼ minutes.
Khadijah Rushdan's layup made it 25-18 with 6:03 left finally ending the drought.
Trailing 28-18, Rutgers closed the half on a 10-0 run. Daisha Simmons started the spurt with a putback and Rushdan's three-point play with 39.3 seconds left tied the game at 28.
Georgetown missed 17 of its final 19 shots in the half.
"We tried to pay more attention to the open man," Rushdan said of the defensive effort after the first few minutes. "We were losing sight of Sugar. I think we just started talking more and followed the defensive plan that we set."
Oliver had 12 points and 10 rebounds by halftime. Her previous career-high for rebounds was nine.
"Coach Stringer just told me to be aggressive, everytime I went to get the rebound I knew it was mine," Oliver said.
Rutgers has won 17 of the 20 meetings between the schools. The Scarlet Knights lost at Georgetown last season before knocking off the Hoyas in the Big East tournament.