- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 30, 2008

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Rutgers got the big early lead then held on when George Washington made its run. Now the Scarlet Knights can look forward to another matchup with Connecticut —this time with a Final Four berth at stake.

Essence Carson scored 25 points today to help the Scarlet Knights beat the Colonials 53-42, sending them to Tuesday’s Greensboro Regional championship for a third meeting with their Big East Conference rivals.

Epiphanny Prince added 12 points for second-seeded Rutgers (27-6), which handed the Huskies their only loss in early February. Connecticut, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, avenged the 73-71 defeat by winning the rematch by 20 points earlier this month.

Jessica Adair scored 16 points to lead the sixth-seeded Colonials (27-7), who fell to 1-3 in regional semifinal games in the tournament. George Washington hasn’t won in the round of 16 since upsetting top-seeded North Carolina in 1997.

Rutgers is back in Greensboro for the second straight season and hopes to have this trip end just like the last: with a Final Four trip. Last year, Rutgers upset top-seeded Duke 53-52 in the regional semifinals and cruised past Arizona State 64-45 to earn the program’s second trip to the national semifinals under coach C. Vivian Stringer.

The Scarlet Knights beat the Colonials by 25 points in November, an outcome that prompted coach Joe McKeown to joke that the only reason he didn’t burn the game film was due to “fire laws in the gym.” George Washington was more competitive this time around, but the Colonials got off to a slow start and never recovered against the Scarlet Knights.

George Washington reached the third round by beating third-seeded California 55-53 on a last-second layup from Sarah-Jo Lawrence, but shot just 8-for-27 (30 percent) to trail by as many as 16 in the first half and 28-16 at the break. That lead ultimately held up, though the Colonials closed the gap to three and four points in the second half only to see Rutgers answer.

George Washington closed to within 33-30 on a jumper from Antelia Parrish with 14:15 left, but the Scarlet Knights came back with a 3-pointer from Brittany Ray followed by a bank shot from Carson and a transition layup from Prince to push the lead to 40-30.

Then, after GW closed to within four, Carson knocked down a jumper from the left wing followed by another while drawing a foul on the next possession. She hit the free throw to make it 49-42 with 3:20 to play.

George Washington, which shot 32 percent for the game, didn’t score again.

Carson went 9-for-15 while pulling down seven rebounds for Rutgers, which shot 51 percent.

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