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No. 10 Rutgers 55, Syracuse 44

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP)

With Rutgers struggling on offense, seniors April Sykes and Khadijah Rushdan took over.

The two scored all 11 points during a decisive run that helped the No. 10 Scarlet Knights beat Syracuse 55-44 on Tuesday night.

Sykes finished with 14 points and Rushdan had 13.

''We were trying to be more assertive,'' Rushdan said. ''It was getting down to it and getting really close. As seniors we know when to be more assertive and take over and understand we need to do the things we need to do when it calls for it.''

With the game tied 36-all midway through the second half, Rushdan scored five straight points with a three-point play and a pair of free throws. Sykes then converted a steal for a layup and hit a 3-pointer to make it 46-37 with just over 6 minutes left. Rushdan capped the 11-1 burst with one more free throw.

''We didn't have people stepping up to make those plays,'' Sykes said. ''In the past we'd lose those games. We knew we had to do whatever it took to help our team win.''

Syracuse (11-5, 0-2) could only get within six the rest of the way.

''Give Rutgers a lot of credit, you have to win home games to win this conference, they do a very good job of protecting the homecourt. My kids competed hard,'' Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. ''They made some tough plays, tough shots - late clock 3's.''

Rutgers also forced the Orange into 27 turnovers while only committing 12.

''They were as responsible for messing up their own shots,'' Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. ''We worked hard, but we think they probably contributed to the turnovers, too. At the end, they were missing shots, we were fortunate.''

The Scarlet Knights (12-2, 1-0 Big East) returned to the top 10 this week for the first time in three years. They were No. 3 on Nov. 17, 2008.

Iasia Hemingway scored 14 points - all in the second half - to lead the Orange, who were coming off consecutive 51-point blowout victories.

''At halftime, my teammates were encouraging me,'' she said. ''You have to leave it all out there. You got to hit that mid-range jumper, that's what I did in the second half.''

Syracuse trailed 28-20 at the break and fell behind by 11 early in the second half after Sykes' 3-point fling from the top of the key just beat the shot clock. The Orange then went on a 14-3 run to tie it at 34. Hemingway had six consecutive points during the burst.

Trailing 16-15 midway through the first half, Rutgers held Syracuse to just four points the rest of the period, going on a 13-4 run. Erica Wheeler had the final five points during the surge, including a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left that made it 28-20. Carmen Tyson-Thomas provided the only real offense for Syracuse, scoring half the team's points, including eight of the first 10.

She finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

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