PISCATAWAY, N.J. - This time, Rutgers did not have to leave its own building in embarrassment.
The No. 4 Scarlet Knights rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half last night to slip past No. 3 Maryland, 68-60, in the women's Jimmy V Classic at the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center.
Rutgers (5-1) moved up a spot yesterday in the Associated Press women's basketball poll and is likely to move higher next week if it wins at Duke on Thursday. The Knights play Army at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Last night's result was much different from a year ago in the Jimmy V Classic, when Rutgers was routed, 85-45, by visiting Duke.
The Scarlet Knights got the job done last night mostly without center Kia Vaughn and point guard Matee Ajavon, who were on the bench in foul trouble during the rally.
The situation created a battle of South Jersey post players, with sophomore substitute Rashidat Junaid of Camden Catholic High helping hold Maryland's Crystal Langhorne (Willingboro) to three of her 11 points in the second half.
"Coach told me to be ready," Junaid said of C. Vivian Stringer. "I wasn't really worried about offense. I just wanted to get in there to guard Langhorne. I think I did a pretty good job."
"It was particularly exciting to see Rah play the way she did," Stringer said. "Langhorne is one of the top two centers in the country. It was nice to see Rah give us some quality minutes."
Rutgers was outscored by 16-2 in the paint in the first period. However, the Scarlet Knights locked the Terrapins out of the key altogether the rest of the way with an 18-0 advantage in inside scoring.
"We played transition defense - that's one of the things we were lacking in the first half," senior Essence Carson said. "They were getting open breaks. We had to get some stops and get back into the game."
On the offensive end, sophomore Epiphanny Prince took over in the final period with 15 of her game-high 22 points. She also dealt 11 assists.
Carson, who missed last week's St. Joseph's game in Philadelphia with a hip flexor injury, returned and added 15 points to the Rutgers attack. Ajavon also scored 15 points.
Maryland (10-1), which had been cruising over opponents until last night, was paced by Marissa Coleman, who had 17 points.
Near the end of the first half, with Maryland hitting its shots, the Terrapins broke from a 20-20 tie on a 13-3 run into the break.
"When Matee and Kia went down with foul trouble, that was our opportunity to take advantage of their players off the bench," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "Epiphanny [who starts] did a tremendous job of bringing the energy and allowing their team a lot of success.
"Credit to their defense and credit to the energy I thought Rutgers played with. And just a great lesson for us to be able to learn from early in the season, to be able to take something out of it and move forward."
Vaughn picked up her fourth foul with 16 minutes, 7 seconds left in the game. Ajavon picked up her third several minutes later, and Maryland moved to a 41-31 lead with 12:57 left before Rutgers began its comeback.
Prince's three-pointer put Rutgers back in front, 46-45 with 7:28 left. The teams exchanged leads until Carson's jumper put the Scarlet Knights ahead to stay at 48-47 with 6:36 left.