PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP)—C. Vivian Stringer didn’t want to focus on her impending milestone. To her, it’s just another round number.
“The number doesn’t matter,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “To me, it’s about changing lives and using basketball as a life changer. See these young women do something special.”
Stringer is on the cusp of becoming the fourth women’s coach to win 900 games. Pat Summitt holds the NCAA record with 1,098 wins, while Jody Conradt and Sylvia Hatchell each have 900 victories. Hatchell just won No. 900 on Thursday, leading No. 16 North Carolina past Boston College.
Only three men’s coaches have reached the 900-win plateau: Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight.
Stringer’s first chance at 900 will come Tuesday at DePaul, the same team she earned her 800th victory against.
“Ever since I got here I’ve been grateful to play with such a passionate coach and I’ve learned so much here,” said Monique Oliver, who led Rutgers with 13 points. “To be a part of history is amazing.”
The Scarlet Knights (14-8, 5-4 Big East), who have made the past 10 NCAA tournaments, are going to have to go on a run to make it this season.
They trailed 30-23 at halftime and were down nine early in the second half before rallying behind a stellar defensive effort. Rutgers held Cincinnati to just one basket over a nearly 16-minute stretch.
Betnijah Laney and Shakena Richardson added 12 points each for the Scarlet Knights.
Dayeesha Hollins scored 20 for Cincinnati (8-15, 0-10).
Rutgers trailed 34-25 with 16:22 left before turning up its defense and taking control of the game. The Scarlet Knights held the Bearcats without a field goal over the next 10 minutes. Cincinnati missed five shots and turned the ball over five times during its offensive drought.
Richardson’s layup capped the 15-2 run and gave Rutgers its first lead since 4 minutes remained in the first half.
Kayla Cook’s 3-pointer with 6:17 to play ended the long offensive drought for Cincinnati and made it 41-39. But that was as close as the Bearcats got.
“We stepped it up,” Stringer said. “We tried something different in the first half and we didn’t seem to move as quickly as we needed to.”
Laney hit a jumper and then two free throws over the next 4 minutes as both teams struggled to score. Oliver added a basket and two free throws as Rutgers extended its lead to 49-41.
The Bearcats could only get within five the rest of the way. Destini Feagin’s jumper with 46.4 seconds left made it a six-point game.
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