Two league teams were in action Tuesday night, including a nationally televised tilt as No. 11/11 Rutgers hosted No. 6/6 Tennessee on ESPN. In addition, No. 23/21 DePaul won at Princeton 78-67.
Anna Martin had 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead DePaul (9-2) past Princeton in the Garden State. Keisha Hampton poured in 23 points for the Blue Demons, while Katherine Harry and Brittany Hrynko added 12 apiece.
DePaul, playing its fourth game in seven days over three cities, got out to a slow start and the game was tied at 17 before Martin’s driving layup sparked an 18-4 run over the next 6:35. That put the Blue Demons ahead 35-21 with 2:30 left in the first half. They opened a pair of 16-point leads and were up 14 at halftime, 39-25.
Princeton got within six, 46-40, but DePaul responded with an 11-3 run for a 57-43 cushion and maintained a comfortable margin the rest of the way.
In Piscataway, the Lady Vols blew a 13-point lead and found themselves down by three before taking control with a late run to seal their 67-61 victory over Rutgers (9-2). Tennessee’s Meighan Simmons hit two clutch 3-pointers during the game-changing spurt. Senior guard April Sykes scored a season-high 27 points to lead RU, which was denied its first win over Tennessee since 2004.
Neither team could pull away as Rutgers built a 54-51 lead on consecutive scores by Khadijah Rushdan and a layup by Sykes with 8:33 left. That would be the Scarlet Knights’ final points until Sykes hit a 3-pointer with 35.9 seconds left that made it 64-57. Rutgers would get within four on Monique’s Oliver’s lay-up with 12.6 seconds left, but it was not enough. Rushdan finished with 16 points.
“I was telling them that I knew we were not pretenders, but were contenders and plan on being that. It hurts now but the key is we know we can compete,” Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer said.
The game featured two Hall of Fame coaches with Pat Summitt of Tennessee and Stringer of Rutgers. The long-time friends have combined for nearly 1,950 victories during their illustrious careers. They stand first and third on the women’s basketball all-time victory list.
Summitt received a warm standing ovation from the crowd before the game and shared a long embrace with Stringer. Rutgers players wore warmup shirts that said “We Back Pat” in honor of Summitt’s battle with Alzeheimer’s. The school also presented Tennessee with a collage of Stringer’s favorite photos with Summitt and a commemorative jersey at the half.
After the game, Summitt walked over to the end line and said a few words to former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed making a tackle on a kickoff return against Army in October 2010.
Material from interviews, school websites, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.