It was a matchup of the last two unbeaten teams in the conference and the first win for Rutgers (18-3, 10-0 Big East) on UConn's home floor, snapping an 11-game losing streak that spanned a decade. The Huskies (21-3, 10-1) were 121-1 in their last 122 Big East home games before Tuesday.
UConn rallied from a 14-point deficit and was within two points twice in the final four minutes. But Rutgers guard Matee Ajavon kept the Huskies at bay with a 3-pointer just as the shot clock expired with 2:28 left for a 58-53 Scarlet Knights' lead. The Huskies cut the deficit to two again on a driving layup from Barbara Turner with 1:29 remaining.
The sellout crowd of 10,167 stood the rest of the way, but there would be no comeback on this night. Pondexter made sure of that from the foul line.
Ajavon finished with 16 points and three of Rutgers' eight steals. Michelle Campbell added 12
Turner led UConn with 17 points and Ann Strother added 15. Crockett had a game-high 13 rebounds. Strother hit two 3-pointers in a 25-15 UConn run to get the Huskies back in it. Pondexter, however, matched her with a 3 each time.
Rutgers used an 13-2 run midway through the first half to gain control. Ajavon had two steals in that stretch and converted both into breakaway layups. Pondexter's 3-pointer with 7:45 left in the period capped the spurt and the Scarlet Knights had their biggest lead of the period at 21-10.
UConn stumbled through the much of the half with eight turnovers and poor shooting. The Huskies shot 24 percent (8-for-33) and the Scarlet Knights made the most of those misses.
Sixteen of Rutgers' 23 first-half rebounds were on the defensive glass. The Huskies chipped away at the deficit with a 9-2 run in the closing minutes, fueled by four points from Turner. But the Scarlet Knights scored the next four points to take a 27-21 lead at the break.