PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Khadijah Rushdan's layup with 1.5 seconds left lifted No. 11 Rutgers to a 65-64 victory over No. 23 DePaul on Tuesday night.
Rushdan's layup capped a furious second-half rally that saw the Scarlet Knights (17-3, 6-1 Big East) come back from a 16-point deficit with 10 minutes left. She had the final 11 points of the rally and finished the game with 24 points.
Trailing by one point with 8 seconds left after Deanna Ortiz missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Rushdan got the ball at midcourt from Nikki Speed and drove to the basket for the game-winner hitting a tough lay-in over Ortiz.
The Blue Demons (15-6, 3-4) couldn't get a shot off at the other end.
Anna Martin scored 26 points to lead DePaul.
Trailing 56-40, Rutgers rallied behind its defense as the Scarlet Knights held DePaul without a field goal over the next 5½ minutes. That helped them go on a 21-8 run to close within 62-61 on Rushdan's layup with 1:49 left. She then blocked a layup by Martin giving Rutgers a chance to take the lead. Both teams got sloppy over the next minute, combining for three turnovers.
Rutgers fouled Martin who converted both free throws to make it a three-point game with 30 seconds left.
After two more turnovers, Rutgers had a chance to tie it, but April Sykes' 3-pointer was off the rim. Rushdan was there to convert the rebound with 12 seconds left to make it 64-63. DePaul inbounded the ball and the Scarlet Knights fouled Ortiz, setting up the exciting finish.
DePaul was coming off a 44-point loss to No. 3 UConn on Saturday. Martin, the Blue Demons' leading scorer, was held without a point in that game. The junior guard, who was averaging 18.3 points, got going early against Rutgers. She had 12 points in the first half including six straight at one point as the Blue Demons built a four-point lead.
Rutgers rallied behind freshman Syessence Davis, who had seven points during a 14-4 run that gave the Scarlet Knights a 28-23 lead. The game was tied at 32 at halftime. Davis finished with a career-high nine points.
DePaul opened the second half with a 20-6 run to take a 50-36 lead on Brittany Hrynko's 3-pointer. Martin hit two 3s during the burst as the Blue Demons capped the run with four straight 3s.
Usually DePaul coach Doug Bruno loves an uptempo game, but the Blue Demons have been decimated by injuries this season. They have lost Keisha Hampton (right knee); Taylor Pikes (ACL); freshmen Alexa Gallagher (right knee) and Chanise Jenkins (left ankle) for the season, leaving the team with eight healthy players.
Only Hampton and Pikes made the trip to New Jersey. The Blue Demons will be back in the Garden State on Saturday to face Seton Hall.
The Scarlet Knights began a rough conference stretch. They visit No. 20 Georgetown before hosting second-ranked Notre Dame and traveling to No. 3 Connecticut.
Former Scarlet Knights star Cappie Pondexter was at the game and received an ovation from the crowd. Pondexter, who graduated from Rutgers in 2006 spent the first part of the WNBA offseason playing for a team in Russia. The New York Liberty All-Star just signed a contract with a team in Turkey for the rest of the winter and will soon be headed back overseas.