• 79°

Pirates fall to Rutgers in first round

By By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Rutgers had more points during a run midway through the first half than East Carolina had in the game.
The Scarlet Knights still were not satisfied, putting together another burst after halftime for good measure.
Matee Ajavon scored 20 and Kia Vaughn had 14 points and seven rebounds, helping fourth-seeded Rutgers rout the 13th-seeded Lady Pirates 77-34 on Sunday night in the first round of the Greensboro Regional.
The Scarlet Knights (23-8) advanced to play Michigan State (24-8) on its home floor Tuesday night.
When the possible matchup was revealed, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was not happy.
On Jan. 28 at home, the Scarlet Knights rallied to beat Michigan State 63-57 with a 12-2 run to end the game.
East Carolina (19-14) was outmatched from the start, and the game was essentially over when Rutgers went on a 13-0 run to lead 31-12 with 7:24 left in the first half.
As if the game was still in doubt, the Scarlet Knights scored the first 12 points of the second half and were ahead by 34 points.
Stringer took out most of her starters midway through the second half ahead by 30-plus points, but reserves added to the lead.
Cherie Mills scored 13 and Jasmine Young had eight points for the Lady Pirates, who had won their previous 10 games.
Rutgers and East Carolina won their conference tournament titles, in the Big East and Conference USA, respectively, for the first time in school history.
But that was the only thing they seemed to have in common.
Rutgers was quicker, bigger and more talented at every position and is in the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year and ninth time in 10 years.
East Carolina made its second appearance in the NCAA tournament and first since 1982, when it lost 79-54 to South Carolina.
Rutgers made 41 percent of its shots and held East Carolina to 16 percent shooting.
Ajavon, who won Big East tournament MVP honors, scored 11 of her 20 points in the first half, helping Rutgers lead 37-15.
Ajavon had plenty of help. Besides Vaughn, who scored in double digits, Epiphanny Prince, Heather Zurich and Dee Dee Jernigan each had nine points.
Rutgers improved to 11-4 in first-round games.