Monday, March 2, 2009

Sometimes There Are Such Things As Moral Victories

The record will say the final score was UCONN 69- Rutgers 59, a double digit loss on a icy and snow packed night in Piscataway, New Jersey. UCONN finished the regular season a perfect 30-0. Rutgers finished a disappointing regular season at 18-11. But the hardy 7,151 mostly Rutgers fans who braved the elements and packed the Louis Brown Athletic Center, affectionately known as the RAC, didn't see a loser leaving the court at the final buzzer.

They saw a team get off of the canvas more than Rocky Balboa in his first fight with Apollo Creed. The only thing missing was a soundtrack by Bill Conte. They took a deadly combination in the first moments of the game on back to back to back three pointers by UCONN"s Renee Montgomery, who went on to score a team high 23 points, and played all 40 minutes of the game. Rutgers best player, the great Epiphanny Prince had an off night, scoring only 11 points, and at one point led the game by 17 pointts, at 20-3. That was the first of several times UCONN threatened to blow the Scarlet Knights out of their own building....but Scarlet Knights refused to go down.

And like Rocky Balboa, they kept coming back. Kia Vaughn continued to rediscover her game, with a game high 24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Heather Zurich, her fellow senior, honored before the contest for their careers in their last home appearance, chipped in with 10 points.

Mighty UCONN won.....but they were tested, really tested for the only time this season; Rutgers was able to get the deficit to only 6 points with less than two minutes to play. And that was the real tale.

They were able to hang with a team that routinely won by 30+ points per game. This Rutgers team was counted out with losing streaks in January, bad losses to Stanford, California, and Maryland, and a mindblowing loss to Tennessee after they had lead by 20 at the half. They were a gang that couldn't shoot straight, who didn't rebound, who turned the ball over too many times, and who ultimately had their locker room taken away by head coach C. Vivian Stringer for 49 days.

But they held together, this combination of youth and untested new leaders....and grew from their mistakes. They played well down the stretch, and won four games in a row going into tonight. And upsetting UCONN was still a possibility as the clock ticked down... a shot goes down here, a steal there, another shot....and we have a shocker on the last day of the season.

I was in the stands tonight...and with any luck my voice will return in a day or so....I really have to learn how not to strain my vocal cords yelling at officials way up in section 215.

I was proud of the effort put out by those women tonight. I hate losing, especially to the hated Huskies....but RU played their hearts out. That's all any fan can ask for.

Its good to be a Scarlet Knights fan..........

For the record, you can check out the box score here

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