No. 9 Rutgers posts win over No. 19 Women's Basketball, 63-49
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- A pair of Rutgers guards - senior Cappie Pondexter sophomore Matee Ajavon - combined for 39 points, eight assists and five steals to lead No. 9 Rutgers to a 63-49 victory over No. 19 Texas Friday night at the Louis Brown Athletic Center on the Rutgers campus. Pondexter had a game-high 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting, while Ajavon added 17.
The loss snapped Texas' three-game win streak, and dropped the Longhorns to 6-4. Texas was playing its third top-10 opponent in 10 games, having already met the nation's two-top ranked teams (Tennessee and Duke).
The Scarlet Knights (9-1), coming off a 10-point loss at Mississippi on Dec. 14, were sharp early on and got better as the game progressed. The 49 points scored by the Longhorns were the second-lowest total by the Texas team in the last 31 games - since Rutgers held the Horns to 47 points in last year's 51-47 win on January 2, 2005.
The shooting for both teams was even, with the Longhorns connecting on 44.4 percent of their shots (20-45) and Rutgers on 46.4 of its field goal attempts (26-56), but the difference was in turnovers and rebounding. Rutgers held a commanding 38-25 edge on the boards. UT had 20 turnovers, while the Scarlet Knight had 14. Rutgers also controlled the points in the paint (24-14) and points off turnovers (23 to UT's 16).
Texas was led by Arriaran's team-high 13 points. Junior forward Tiffany Jackson finished with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Senior guard Daria Mieloszynska and freshman post Aubry Cook both came off the bench and had eight points apiece.
The Longhorns, who never led and had only two ties in the game (at 5-5 and 9-9), trailed at intermission by a 34-20 score. In the final half, Texas managed to pull within 10 points, 42-32, with 14:36 to go. Trailing by 18 (40-22), the Longhorns mounted a 10-2 run, capped by Jackson's three-point play with a layup and free throw. But that was as close as the Longhorns would get, as the Scarlet Knights used a Michelle Campbell layup and Ajavon jumper to pull ahead by 14, 46-32, with 13:27 to go.
In the final 13:27, the Longhorns connected on six of their final 16 shots, went 4-for-8 from the foul line, and had five turnovers.
In the first half, the Longhorns had held their own for a while, largely due to freshman guard Erika Arriaran. Arriaran scored 10 of her 13 points in the first half, before a recurring cramp in her right calf limited her play after the break. In the first half, Arriaran drained all four of her shots, including a pair of 3-pointers.
With the game tied at 9-9 with 13:41 left, Rutgers pulled away with a 19-4 run over the next nine and one-half minutes, and held a 28-13 edge with 4:41 to go on an Ajavon jumper. Ajavon scored three straight baskets, and Pondexter had three straight herself as the duo combined for 18 points during that 19-4 spurt.
Texas cut the lead to 10 (28-18) a few minutes later with 2:41 left after a layup by Ashley Lindsey and a three-point jumper by Arriaran. Rutgers then scored on back-to-back possessions (a Campbell layup and Ajavon jumper) to push the lead to 14 (32-18) before an Arriaran jumper brought the Longhorns to within 12, 32-20, with 1:24 remaining. Campbell finished the half's scoring with a rebound and putback 39 seconds later, and Rutgers took its 34-20 lead into intermission.
In the first half, both teams shot the ball well, with Rutgers hitting at a 56 percent clip (15-27) and Texas making 50 percent (9 of 18) of its field goals. The Scarlet Knights, however, doubled UT's efforts in rebounding, holding a 16-8 edge on the boards going into intermission.
Texas will now open Big 12 Conference play with two away games next week. The Longhorns' Big 12 opener will be against the undefeated Kansas Jayhawks (11-0) on Tuesday, Jan. 3 in Lawrence, Kansas. Tip is at 6 p.m. Central, and the game will air live on College Sports TV (CSTV). Following that game, Texas travels to another undefeated Big 12 opponent - defending NCAA titlist Baylor (10-0) - for a 3 p.m. contest on Saturday, Jan. 7 which will be televised on FSN (FOX Sports Net).
There are planned Texas Basketball "watch parties" for both the Kansas and Baylor games, and a fan bus trip is scheduled for the Baylor game.
It was disappointing that we were back on our heels early on. Rutgers took advantage of that. I thought we were fortunate to be as close as we were at halftime. I thought Erika (Arriaran) was really good for us early on. We also got some strong efforts and intensity off the bench from Daria (Mieloszynska) and Tamra (Cobbins). We rallied at times, but, if you look at the stats ... The rebounding stats are always telling. We were very poor on the boards tonight. We knew we were going to have to win the boards tonight in order to win the game, and we did not come close to that. Time after time we did not box out, and it's very disappointing when the players don't make the adjustments to do that.
I don't think there's a dominant, can't-be-beaten team in our game right now, but Rutgers looked like they could arm wrestle with the best of them tonight. Our game has gotten physical and if you don't like mixing it up, you need to find a way to get on a tennis court where there's a net between you and your opponent.
On the play of Rutgers guards Cappie Pondexter, Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson: Their guards are really, really good. With the shot clock winding down on certain possessions, you knew one of them was going to take control and we didn't do well in stopping them. We knew that their guards would take it and go one-on-one and we didn't respond well at all. Cappie (Pondexter) is very experienced. She does what a player of her caliber should do -- say, 'When my team needs something, I'm going to go get it.'
On what lies ahead for the Longhorns as they begin Big 12 play on January 3rd (at Kansas): We've got a lot of work to do. Every game, there is a lesson to be taken. We keep learning the same lessons, and that has to stop. We're not good enough on either end of the floor to play with a top 10 team. I've said that three times already this season [against Tennessee, Duke and now Rutgers]. When you play a schedule like we do, you hope to learn those lessons. I don't want to keep having to learn them. We better go home and figure out that nobody is going to take it easy on us, especially since we start the Big 12 this week.
There's no excuses to be made. Whether we're young or hurt, it doesn't matter. When you wear a Texas uniform, the opponent doesn't just want to beat you - they want to bury you.
Rutgers Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
I thought the defense was key, but Cappie (Pondexter) had a great game. Her mother was (in attendance) and we need to get pictures of her in here. We need to get her up here all the time from Chicago.