February 23, 2005

No. 9 Rutgers 54, No. 24 Boston College 36

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- As the final seconds ticked off her final and possibly ``longest'' home game, Chelsea Newton was aware how far No. 9 Rutgers had come in the past four years.

The group that was part of a 9-20 team as freshmen had just beaten No. 24 Boston College 54-36 on Tuesday night to give the Scarlet Knights (21-5, 12-2 Big East) their first undefeated home season since 1987-88.

``To go undefeated on our court we're making them (the fans) happy,'' Newton said after scoring 12 points to help Rutgers win its sixth straight game. ``For us, it's a great thing, especially for a senior to go out the way we are going out.''

Cappie Pondexter, who decided on Sunday to stay at Rutgers for another year of eligibility, scored 14 points and led a 15-0 spurt that helped the Scarlet Knights maintain the inside track to their first regular-season conference title.

The Scarlet Knights, who finished 13-0 at Rutgers Athletic Center, have road games left at Pittsburgh and Villanova.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said that the senior class, which includes Nikki Jett and Rebecca Richman, never quit after the rough first season.

``We learned what we don't like,'' Stringer said. ``We learned how to work and pull it together. If there is a word that describes this team, especially the seniors, they were the ones who persevered and stuck with it, when everyone counted them out.''

The 36 points were a season-low for Boston College (17-8, 8-6), and its lowest total in a game since a 48-35 loss to Villanova on Jan. 31, 1998. The Eagles have lost five of their last seven games.

They're 2-4 since leading scorer Jessica Deveny was lost for the season with an Achilles' injury.

Shamika Jackson had eight points and Clare Droesch 11 rebounds to lead Boston College, whose previous low was 47 points against Notre Dame on Feb. 15.

While coach Cathy Inglese said there was no doubt the team misses Deveny, she was disappointed with the game.

``I think we got frustrated, that's the biggest thing I was disappointed in,'' Inglese said. ``We practiced well for two days and had some good combinations, but we missed four layups in the first half. You can't be doing that against Rutgers.''

Rutgers is 7-3 in games against Top-25 teams, with five of the wins coming against Top-10 teams. Boston College is 0-7 against ranked teams.

Pondexter decided the game by scoring 10 of the 15 points in the run that bridged the final 4:26 of the first half and the opening 4:46 of the second.

The spurt, at least timewise, was longer than that because the game was delayed about 20 minutes early in the second half because of a shot-clock malfunction.

The situation got so comical that Rutgers' players on the bench started doing the wave as the university band entertained the crowd.

``It got to be funny after a while,'' Inglese said. ``Our focus and intensity lapsed at one point and I had to remind them we were taking the ball out of bounds and there were four seconds to go (on the shot clock). But they got the same 20 minutes off that we did.''

Newton also had to wait it out.

``That game seemed so long,'' said Newton, whose voiced cracked several times in the post-game news conference

With Rutgers leading 17-15 with less than five minutes left in the half, Pondexter hit a 3-pointer that ignited an 8-0 run over the final 4:26. She added two more 3-pointers in a 7-0 run to start the second half, the last 3 giving Rutgers a 32-15 lead.

The 15 first-half points were a season low for Boston College, which turned the ball over 25 times.

The undefeated home season was the sixth in Rutgers' history, but first under Stringer. The previous five were under Theresa Grentz.

No comments: