Number One Takes A Tumble

By Richard Kent
Updated: February 6, 2008

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Yes, it is a sports rivalry. Yes, it is now the premier rivalry in women’s college basketball. It is Rutgers-UConn and it is meaningful. It is probably just as meaningful as UConn-Tennessee was in past years.

It doesn’t have the panache of CBS television, but it has regional and national interest as well.

Just look at the press tables at the game and you will know who is there. It was a who’s who of women’s college basketball publications. USA Today, The New York Times and all the Connecticut and New Jersey newspapers.

And even though UConn head coach Geno Auriemma scoffed at a rivalry years ago when UConn dominated the series it is now most definitely a rivalry.

Since 1993, UConn is 270-15 against Big East teams with five losses coming to Rutgers. Entering the contest, the Scarlet Knights have won four of the last eight games against the Huskies including the 2007 Big East Championship on UConn’s home court in Hartford.

Tuesday night was no different at a raucous soldout Rutgers Athletic Center. The Rutgers defense and coach Stringer’s patented 55 defense held UConn at bay throughout the second half and only served to energize the crowd.

Rutgers defeated UConn 73-71 before a crowd of 8,026. Scarlet Knight guard Epiphanny Prince scored a career high 33 points, 27 of which came in the second half.

Prince finished 10-of-20 from the field and 11-11 from the free throw line. It was the most points scored by a UConn opponent this season against the Huskies.

UConn freshman Maya Moore looked nothing more than ordinary in the first half but put on a spectacular show in the second half hitting three key treys towards the end of the game to keep UConn in it.

Renee Montgomery led UConn with 24 points and played all 40 minutes. Tina Charles had a double-double for the Huskies and Kia Vaughn finished with 14 points for Rutgers. Matee Ajavon of Rutgers had a surprising 10 rebounds.

UConn had a 40-30 lead but Rutgers then went on a 16-4 run to take charge of the game behind Prince.

Rutgers and UConn will meet at least once more and probably twice more at the Hartford Civic Center before the season ends.

Rutgers plays another No. 1-ranked team in Tennessee next Monday night on ESPN on the road. It will be quite a challenge for the Scarlet Knights but they were up to the challenge against the Huskies.

Last year, they lost to the Lady Vols in the National Championship game in Cleveland.

Revenge will be on their minds this year.