No. 21 Golden Eagles Fall 63-55 to No. 19 Rutgers in BIG EAST Semis

March 5, 2007

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Matee Ajavon scored 20 points, Kia Vaughn had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 19 Rutgers beat No. 21 Marquette 63-55 on Monday night to advance to the Big East conference finals.

The Scarlet Knights (21-8) came from behind to reach their fifth conference title game. They lost the other four.

Rutgers will play No. 2 UConn, the regular-season and two-time defending tournament champion, on Tuesday night. The Huskies beat No. 23 Louisville 76-50 in the first semifinal.

Krystal Ellis led Marquette (25-6) with 20 points, but only six of those came after intermission. Rutgers trailed 33-31 at halftime, before opening the second half with a 17-4 run.

The Golden Eagles cut the deficit to four points three times in the closing minutes, but could get no closer.

A 3-pointer from Essence Carson with 1:32 left put Rutgers up 61-55. Vaughn pulled down a big rebound with 37 seconds left and Epiphanny Prince hit two free throws at the other end to secure the win.

Marquette jumped out to an 11-5 lead behind three 3-pointers from Ellis, and led by as many as eight points early.

But Rutgers used an 11-2 run to get back in the game and take a 25-24 lead. Vaughn had 14 of the Scarlet Knights' first 20 points.

Marquette's Efueko Osagie-Landry was helped off the court with 3:45 after taking a hard foul from Myia McCurdy on a layup attempt. Erin Monfre came in to attempt the free throws but missed both of them.

Prince had 10 points for the Scarlet Knights and Kelly Lam had 11 for Marquette.

Rutgers also beat the Golden Eagles 66-56 in January, but Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said the Scarlet Knights are much better now.

"The younger players have realized just how good they are," she said.

Rutgers is 0-5 against UConn in the Big East tournament, and has lost three times to the Huskies in the championship, in 1998, 2000, and '05. The Huskies also beat Rutgers twice this season, 60-50 in Storrs on Feb. 6 and 70-44 at home on Feb. 26.




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