HARTFORD, CT - Matee Ajavon scored 16 points and Cappie Pondexter added 15 off the bench as No. 9 Rutgers rallied past Villanova, 64-59, for a berth in the BIG EAST Conference tournament title game." />
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Rutgers Rallies to Defeat Villanova in BIG EAST Semi's 64-59
  • Posted on March 07, 2005 12:00:00 AM
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  • HARTFORD, CT – No. 9 Rutgers rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to defeat Villanova (19-11) 64-59 in the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals March 7 at the Hartford Civic Center, earning a trip to the championship game.

    The Scarlet Knights will face No. 13 Connecticut, a 67-54 winner against No. 10 Notre Dame in the other semifinal contest, for the BIG EAST Tournament title on Tuesday, March 8, at 7:00 p.m. at the Hartford Civic Center. The game will be shown live on ESPN and will be carried on WCTC 1450 AM and WRSU 88.7 FM. A live stream of the radio broadcast, as well as live statistics, will be available via www.scarletknights.com.

    For the second straight game, freshman Matee Ajavon (Newark, NJ) came out of the gates on fire, scoring the Scarlet Knights’ first eight points of the game. RU was staked to a three-point lead (16-13) with 9:18 to play in the half, but the Wildcats ended the period with an 18-4 run, taking a 31-20 lead into the locker room.

    Villanova made 50.0 (11-22) percent of its shots in the first half, including a 7-for-12 (.583) effort from three-point range. The Wildcats converted seven Rutgers turnovers into 13 points, while Villanova had just three turnovers of its own. The Scarlet Knights struggled from the field, making just seven of 22 (.318) field goals in the first stanza.

    The second-largest halftime deficit of the season for Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights steadily chipped away at that lead, scoring the first six points of the second half (31-26, 17:45). Villanova answered with an 8-2 run to push its lead back to double figures (39-28, 15:14), but RU would not surrender, scoring 15 unanswered points over the next 4:10. Ajavon’s jumper started the run, followed by a Cappie Pondexter (Chicago, IL) free throw and jump shot. Chelsea Newton (Monroe, LA) nailed a three-pointer to pull the Knights back within three points at 39-36 with 13:54 to play, followed by a 1-for-2 effort from the free-throw line. Essence Carson’s (Paterson, NJ) field goal knotted the score at 39-39 (11:59), and Michelle Campbell (Princeton, NJ) added a layup and Pondexter collected two more points to give Rutgers a 43-39 advantage with 11:04 on the clock.

    Rutgers’ lead was eight (51-43) with 6:22 remaining in the game, but the Wildcats clawed their way back with an 8-2 spurt to pull within two at 53-51 (2:45). With the shot clock winding down, Pondexter spun through the lane and found a cutting Carson at the basket to give Rutgers a 55-51 lead with 2:17 on the clock. The Wildcats beat RU’s press for an easy basket on the next possession, but Pondexter drained a fall-away 15-footer to again give RU a four-point margin (57-53, 1:24). Villanova’s next missed shot was rebounded by Carson, and Newton was fouled on the ensuing possession. She made both free throws to give the Scarlet Knights a six-point cushion (59-53) with 42.5 seconds remaining. A Villanova three pulled the Wildcats to within 59-56 with 33.5 seconds on the clock. Pondexter was fouled immediately upon receiving the inbounds pass, and made both free throws (61-56, 32.2). The Wildcats moved the ball down the floor, but Ajavon poked it away near midcourt and found a streaking Newton, who was fouled after making the layup. Newton’s free throw with 15.1 seconds left gave RU a 64-56 lead, and a desperation Wildcat three-pointer with 2.8 seconds remaining was not enough to catch the Scarlet Knights.

    RU forced 10 second-half Villanova turnovers while only throwing the ball away twice itself in the last 20 minutes. Despite Villanova’s 56.1 (23-41) percent effort from the field overall and 10-for-15 (.667) shooting from beyond the arc, compared to Rutgers’ 21-for-49 (.429) shooting during the game, the Scarlet Knights had 10 steals to the Wildcats’ zero, and RU converted on 20 of its 21 (.952) trips to the free-throw line, compared to Villanova’s 3-for-4 (.750) effort.

    Ajavon led Rutgers with 16 points and five steals. Pondexter added 15 points and four assists, Newton had 13 tallies and seven rebounds, and Carson collected 12 points and eight caroms.

    Official Basketball Box Score
    Villanova vs Rutgers
    3/7/05 6:00 p.m. at Hartford Civic Center  Hartford, CT
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    VISITORS: Villanova (19-11)
                              TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
    ## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
    25 Hilgenberg, Jennifer f  4-7    2-3    0-0    0  0  0   1  10  3  5  1  0  33
    31 Dessart Mager, Kate. f  1-5    0-1    2-2    0  1  1   2   4  0  0  0  0  16
    35 Adamshick, Jackie... f  7-11   4-4    1-2    1  2  3   3  19  2  2  0  0  40
    21 Rediger, Jana....... c  0-1    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   3   0  0  1  0  0  11
    03 McManus, Betsy...... g  1-2    1-2    0-0    0  6  6   2   3  4  2  0  0  39
    10 Witman, Stacie......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   8
    14 Suez, Liad..........    4-8    1-3    0-0    0  6  6   3   9  8  3  0  0  35
    30 Roantree, Courtney..    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
    44 Levitsky, Katia.....    6-7    2-2    0-0    0  0  0   2  14  1  0  1  0  17
       TEAM................                            1  1
       Totals..............   23-41  10-15   3-4    1 17 18  17  59 18 13  2  0 200
    
    TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-22 50.0%   2nd Half: 12-19 63.2%   Game: 56.1%  DEADB
    3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  7-12 58.3%   2nd Half:  3-3  100 %   Game: 66.7%   REBS
    F Throw % 1st Half:  2-2  100 %   2nd Half:  1-2  50.0%   Game: 75.0%    0
    
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    HOME TEAM: Rutgers (25-5)
                              TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
    ## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
    34 CAMPBELL, Michelle.. f  2-2    0-0    4-4    2  5  7   1   8  0  0  2  2  37
    05 CARSON, Essence..... g  6-10   0-0    0-0    3  5  8   1  12  1  3  1  1  37
    13 JETT, Nikki......... g  0-3    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  1  0  0  13
    22 AJAVON, Matee....... g  6-15   1-2    3-3    2  0  2   3  16  3  3  0  5  34
    32 NEWTON, Chelsea..... g  3-8    1-1    6-7    3  4  7   2  13  1  0  0  1  39
    03 LOCKE, Courtney.....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
    25 PONDEXTER, Cappie...    4-11   0-0    7-7    1  2  3   1  15  4  1  0  1  33
    42 THEODORIS, Mariota..    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  1  0  0   3
    55 RICHMAN, Rebecca....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   3
       TEAM................                         1  2  3
       Totals..............   21-49   2-3   20-21  12 18 30  11  64  9  9  3 10 200
    
    TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  7-22 31.8%   2nd Half: 14-27 51.9%   Game: 42.9%  DEADB
    3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-1  100 %   2nd Half:  1-2  50.0%   Game: 66.7%   REBS
    F Throw % 1st Half:  5-5  100 %   2nd Half: 15-16 93.8%   Game: 95.2%    0
    
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Officials: Dee Kantner, Barbara Smith, Yvette McKinney
    Technical fouls: Villanova-None. Rutgers-None.
    Attendance:
    Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
    Villanova.....................   31   28  -   59
    Rutgers.......................   20   44  -   64
    2005 Women's BIG EAST Championship
    Semifinal round game --  #1-seed Rutgers against #5-seed Villanova
    Rutgers advances to Tuesday's Championship game at 7:00 pm against
    Notre Dame-Connecticut winner
    
    Points in the paint-VU 16,RUTGERS 24. Points off turnovers-VU 13,RUTGERS 25.
    2nd chance points-VU 3,RUTGERS 10. Fast break points-VU 6,RUTGERS 8.
    Bench points-VU 23,RUTGERS 15. Score tied-4 times. Lead changed-8 times.
    Last FG-VU 2nd-00:03, RUTGERS 2nd-00:15.
    
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