Pondexter, the nation's second-leading scorer at 22.1 points per game, is battling a stomach virus. She was held to nine points, going 2-for-12 from the field, to end her streak of double-figure games at 28.
"I told Cappie she had to play through it," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "Villanova is not a team you want to have to play any time, especially not when your leader is sick. But we got other kids to step up and give us some good contributions."
Down 25-23 at the half after making only nine of 23 shots from the field, Rutgers (20-3, 12-0 Big East) took the lead at 27-26 on Carson's jumper early in the second half. The Scarlet Knights took a 10-point lead with 13 minutes to play.
"Their press forced us to rush in the second half," Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. "It changes the whole game when they are able to press and push the tempo on offense."
Rutgers increased its lead to 15 with 8:36 to play, then didn't hit a field goal the rest of the game. But the Scarlet Knights did hit 10 of 12 free throws.
Jackie Adamshick scored 14 points and Kate Dessart Mager added 12 for Villanova (14-9, 5-7). The Wildcats had won their last two games.
|Big East Standings|
|St. John's (NY)||8||4||18||5|