Rutgers Whips TCU

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Rutgers may be peaking now, and not a moment too soon.

After struggling in the last two games, the third-seeded Scarlet Knights routed 11th-seeded TCU 82-48 in the second round of the Cleveland Regional on Tuesday night.

Rutgers advanced to a meeting with Tennessee in the round of 16 Sunday.

It's the game coach C. Vivian Stringer and her players have been pointing toward ever since the brackets were announced last Monday, and one they've had in the back of the minds for the last 12 months.

The Lady Vols knocked Rutgers out of the tournament in the regional final in Philadelphia last year. In 2000, they defeated the Scarlet Knights in the Final Four, and ended Rutgers' season in the tournament two other times.

"I guess that's how the basketball gods wanted it to be," said Cappie Pondexter, who led Rutgers with 24 points. "When it comes around, we're going to be ready."

Rutgers played much better than in its last two games - a 56-40 loss to West Virginia in the second round of the Big East Tournament and a more difficult than expected 63-58 win over No. 14 seed Dartmouth on Sunday.

The Scarlet Knights (27-4) shot 65 percent (17-for-26) in the first half and 55 percent (31-for-56) for the game and had five players in double figures. Kia Vaughn had 11 rebounds as Rutgers outworked the Horned Frogs 46-28. The Scarlet Knights also had 22 assists, including a career-high 13 by Matee Ajavon.

Rutgers also had its highest point total since a 90-42 win over Rider on Nov. 20, 2004, and gave Stringer her 750th career victory. Only Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Texas' Jody Conradt have more.

Adrianne Ross, Vanessa Clementino and Ashley Davis scored 10 points apiece to lead TCU (19-12). The Horned Frogs were playing their second tournament game without leading scorer and rebounder Natasha Lacy, who left the team last week to attend to an unspecified personal matter.

It's doubtful even Lacy would have been able to stem the tide.

"That's as good as any team I've seen all year, and we had some pretty good teams on our schedule," TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. "I thought we did some things decent, but Rutgers was just fantastic tonight."

Rutgers' recent struggles were a distant memory Tuesday as the Scarlet Knights trailed 8-2 before taking the lead and then outscoring the Horned Frogs 26-8 to open a commanding 39-20 advantage.

Pondexter hit consecutive 3-pointers and scored 11 points during the run. It turned out she was just getting started.

With Rutgers leading 41-22 to start the second half, Pondexter outscored TCU 10-5 herself in the first 6 minutes and the lead increased to 56-27, and then eventually 72-37. The Scarlet Knights never led by fewer than 30 after that.

"It was great to see our team execute," Stringer said. "We really moved the ball, we got good shots and we were looking for each other. It was one of the better games I've seen in a long time, and it can't come at a better time than now."

Rutgers' Cappie Pondexter going in for 2 of her game-high 24 points.

Rutgers' Cappie Pondexter getting defensive.

Rutgers defenders Essence Carson and Kia Vaughn disrupting the TCU offense.

Rutgers' Essence Carson taking a perimeter jumper.  Carson would score 14 points, grab 4 rebounds and log a game-high 38 minutes on the day.

TCU players react after their 2nd round NCAA Tournament loss to Rutgers.

Rutgers' Kia Vaughn getting physical inside.

TCU's Vanessa Clementino reacting after her team fell in a second round contest versus Rutgers.


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