Rutgers 68, No. 20 Marquette 62
Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer didn't like the way April Sykes began her Big East tournament, and she let the junior know about it at halftime Sunday.
Sykes responded by scoring 16 of her 18 points in the second half and Rutgers beat No. 20 Marquette 68-62 to move into Monday's semifinals.
''Coach Stringer is not the type of coach to praise you when you're not doing your best and I love her for that,'' Sykes said. ''The second half, she got into my chest.''
Monique Oliver added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Scarlet Knights (19-11) and Chelsey Lee had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Rutgers has won five in a row, a streak that started with a win over the Golden Eagles.
Angel Robinson had 18 points Jasmine Collins tied a career-high with 17 points for Marquette (23-8).
Rutgers trailed by two at halftime, but opened the second half on a 15-4 run to go up 39-30, and led by as many as 15 before cruising to the win.
''We knew that we had to step it up on the rebounding and we just needed to block out,'' Oliver said.
Rutgers outrebounded Marquette 42-23, 22-11 in the second half, with Khadijah Rushdan getting 10 of the rebounds.
''It's unfair to expect her to be the leading rebounder and then be the point guard and she has the toughest defensive assignment,'' Stringer said. ''Give me a break. So I challenged them to really step to it.''
Rutgers will face top-ranked Connecticut in the semifinals Monday. The Huskies beat Georgetown 59-43 on Sunday.
''That game that just happened; won't get it against UConn, there's no question about that,'' Stringer said.
The Scarlet Knights jumped out to a 10-3 lead, hitting their first four field goal attempts and forcing a Marquette timeout just 2 1/2 minutes into the game.
The Golden Eagles made only two of their first 12 shots, before Tatiyiana McMorris hit a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 17-10.
Rutgers led by 12, but hit just one of its final 11 shots in the first half, and Marquette closed the period on a 16-2 run.
The Golden Eagles tied the game 24-all on a 3-pointer by Courtney Weibel, and took their first lead on two free throws by Angel Robinson that made it 26-24 at halftime.
Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said she was hoping for a similar run late in the second half, but it never materialized.
''I thought we definitely had it in us, but it didn't happen,'' she said. ''Because I always know that we can get defensive stops and that gets us going.''
Marquette is still expected to get its first NCAA tournament berth since 2007, the last time the Golden Eagles had 20 wins in a season.
Rutgers is 8-0 all-time against Marquette, and won their only other meeting this season 76-55 on Feb. 19.