Jan 18, 2003
By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Cappie Pondexter hit a 12-foot jumper with 26 seconds left as Rutgers came back from a 15-point second-half deficit to beat No. 21 Notre Dame 64-61 Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights (9-4, 3-1 Big East) held the Irish (10-5, 2-2) scoreless for 6:37 to cut the lead to 50-48. They moved ahead 61-59 with 1:41 left on a 3-pointer by Mauri Horton, who led Rutgers with 19 points.
Alicia Ratay tied it for the Irish by going 2-of-4 from the free-throw line, but the 5-foot-9 Pondexter put the Knights ahead 63-61 when she hit a jumper over 6-foot-3 Courtney LaVere.
The Irish had several chances to tie the score, but Alicia Ratay missed a 17-foot jumper, Katy Flecky missed a shot underneath and LaVere and Flecky both missed shots underneath.
Horton made a free-throw with 0.3 seconds left as the Scarlet Knights, who beat No. 19 Villanova 58-57 on Wednesday, beat ranked teams in consecutive games for the first time in 12 years. The Irish have lost three straight at home.
Chelsea Newton added 16 points and four assists for Rutgers and Pondexter added 14 points, four assists and four rebounds.
LaVere led the Irish with 23 points and nine rebounds and Ratay added 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting. Jacqueline Batteast, who played only 15 minutes because she was in foul trouble, had nine points.
The Irish led 21-9 when LaVere scored on her own rebound with 13:01 to go in the half as they were 9-of-12 from the field. After LaVere scored again on a rebound off her own missed shot on Notre Dame’s next possession, the Irish were 1-of-6 from the field the rest of the half.
The Scarlet Knights used a 10-3 run at the end of the half to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 34-28 at the break.
Notre Dame opened a 50-35 lead when LaVere scored inside on a three-point play with 12:44 to go, but the Irish started turning the ball over to let the Scarlet Knights get back into the game.
The last time Notre Dame lost three straight at home was the final game of the 1993-94 season to Minnesota and the first two games of the following season to Purdue and Michigan State. The last time they did it in a single season was the final three games of 1981-82 against Nebraska, DePaul and Michigan State.
The Irish, who have never lost four straight at home, host No. 3 Connecticut (16-0) on Monday. The Huskies won their NCAA-record 55th straight game Saturday, beating Georgetown 72-49.