No. 3 seed Rutgers avoids upset

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Cappie Pondexter scored 21 points, Matee Ajavon added 19 and third-seeded Rutgers rebounded from a stunning loss in the Big East tournament with a 63-58 win over 14th-seeded Dartmouth on Sunday.

Rutgers scored the first 13 points of the game, then had to beat back a second-half rally by the Big Green in the first round of the Cleveland region.

Angie Soriaga was 6-for-10 from 3-point range and led Dartmouth (23-7) with 23 points after scoring three in the first half.

Rutgers will face either Texas Christian or Texas A&M in Tuesday's second round.

The game was the first for Rutgers since a 56-40 loss in the second round of the Big East tournament to a 12th-seeded West Virginia team that was without its leading scorer. It appeared at the outset Sunday that the Scarlet Knights were ready to make Dartmouth absorb the brunt of their frustrations.

But after the initial burst to start the game, Rutgers never led by more than 16 points was ahead 59-55 after Soriaga sank a 3-pointer with 2:21 left. She then rebounded a Rutgers miss at the other end, but Dartmouth's Fatima Kamara committed an offensive foul and Rutgers' Michelle Campbell followed a miss by Pondexter and scored to give Rutgers a 61-55 edge.

Soriaga left a Rutgers defender in the dust with a crossover and sank another 3-pointer to make it 61-58 with 46 seconds left. After successive missed free throws by Rutgers, Dartmouth had two more chances to tie but Ashley Taylor missed from behind the arc and Soriaga slipped and fell into Essence Carson and was called for an offensive foul with 13.7 seconds left.

Pondexter converted two free throws with 12.9 seconds left for Rutgers' final points.

Rutgers employed a fullcourt press from its opening basket and the tactic paid off as Dartmouth went scoreless for the first 5 minutes as the Scarlet Knights built a 13-0 lead. Kamara finally broke the drought for the Big Green, but Rutgers extended the lead to 26-10 on a jumper by Pondexter, who finished the half with 11 points.

Dartmouth refused to wilt, and baskets by Sydney Scott and Kamara sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Taylor cut it to 26-17. Rutgers led 32-20 before Dartmouth scored the last five points of the half, with the final three coming on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Soriaga from just over the halfcourt line for her only points of the half.

Dartmouth, which entered the game as the seventh-best team in the country in 3-point field goal percentage, missed its first four attempts from behind the line but made three of its next four and went on to shoot 9-for-23.

Rutgers' coach C. Vivian Stringer instructing her Scarlet Knights during a time-out during the second half of RU's first round game versus Dartmouth. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Rutgers' Kia Vaughn stopping a Dartmouth layin. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Rutgers' Michelle Campbell netting two versus Dartmouth. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Rutgers' Cappie Pondexter shooting between a pair of Dartmouth defenders. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Cappie Pondexter's "The Future" tattoo is emblematic of her WNBA desires. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Dartmouth's Ashley Taylor surrounded by a trio of Scarlet Knights.  (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Cappie Pondexter with a contested jump shot in the first half of Rutgers' opening round victory versus Dartmouth. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Rutgers' Matee Ajavon sidestepping a pair of Dartmouth defenders.  (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Rutgers' Matee Ajavon shooting the ball despite a triple team. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)


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