February 20, 2005

No. 10 Rutgers Women Down No. 5 Notre Dame

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Chelsea Newton had 14 points and eight assists and No. 10 Rutgers posted its fifth win over a top-10 team this season with a 59-48 victory over No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday, snapping the Irish's season-high 10-game winning streak.

Cappie Pondexter added 13 points as the Scarlet Knights (20-5, 11-2 Big East) stayed unbeaten at home (12-0) and moved into first place in the league, a half game ahead of Notre Dame (23-4, 11-3) and Connecticut (17-6, 10-2), which was to play Syracuse at home Saturday night.

Jacqueline Batteast and Megan Duffy had 14 points apiece to lead Notre Dame, which was held to a season-low point total by Rutgers' tenacious and physical defense. The previous low was 50 in a loss to Connecticut and a win over Marquette.

Rutgers forced 23 turnovers, including 10 by Duffy, Notre Dame's usually reliable point guard. The Irish didn't find enough open room to attempt a 3-pointer until Duffy launched an NBA-length 3 with 4:17 to play.

Still Notre Dame had a chance. Trailing 32-19 at the half after hitting only five field goals and shooting 25 percent, the Irish opened the second half with an 11-1 spurt by combining a box-and-one defense on Pondexter with a few good plays inside.

A layup by Courtney LaVere got the Irish to 33-31 with 15:05 to play, and it seemed they would get a chance to tie the game when Rutgers fumbled the ball in the final seconds of the next possession.

However, freshman Matee Ajavon managed to pick up the loose ball and threw in an off-balance floater. The basket started a 12-2 run that featured a steal and layup by Ajavon and a basket and 3-pointer by Newton, who had 12 points in the second half.

Pondexter was the difference in the first half, hitting all five of her field goals, including two 3-pointers, in helping Rutgers jump to an early lead it never lost.

Batteast, the Big East's second-leading scorer, was 3-of-14 from the field. She also was cut above the right eye in the game.

Rutgers also has beaten LSU, Connecticut, Texas and Tennessee when they were ranked in the top 10 this season.

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