PISCATAWAY, N.J. – April Sykes scored 18 points and No. 11 Rutgers held Iona to just two baskets in the second half of a 62-29 win on Sunday.
Rutgers (10-2) let a 23-15 halftime lead dwindle to four, missing 11 of its first 12 shots to start the second half. Freshman Betnijah Laney finally ended the drought, hitting a 3-pointer from the corner with 11:21 left. Then her classmates took over during a 36-7 run to close the game. Shakena Richardson had nine points during the spurt and Syessence Davis added five. Laney's three-point play made it 52-29 with 4:59 left.
Iona's only basket during the spurt was a 3-pointer by Kristina Ford with 8:08 remaining, ending a 9½-minute drought without a field goal. The Gaels would only make two free throws the rest of the game.
Ford scored 11 points for Iona (4-6), which shot 17 percent from the field, including just 10 percent in the second half.
The Scarlet Knights bounced back from a 67-61 loss to No. 6 Tennessee on Tuesday night. They are now off until a visit to George Washington on Dec. 30. The Big East opener is Jan. 3 against Syracuse.
Iona has been on the road for the entire month of December, playing five games away from home. The Gaels have now dropped the first four, with a trip to Colgate left on Dec. 29. This was only the Gaels' second time facing Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights beat Iona 90-54 in 1977.
Rutgers scored the game's first seven points, then played an uninspired rest of the first half. Iona closed to 10-9 midway through the period, but the Scarlet Knights scored seven straight, including a 3-pointer by Nikki Speed to get the lead back up to eight.
Rutgers led by eight at the break as Sykes had 10 points. The Scarlet Knights shot just 25 percent from the field (7 for 28), but held Iona to only 24 percent (5 for 21).