EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Tyler Scaife went coast-to-coast and scores with 2 seconds left to give Rutgers the Women's National Invitation Tournament championship with a 56-54 win over UTEP on Saturday.
Rutgers (28-9), which led 30-16 at the half, withstood a furious second-half rally by UTEP (29-8), which tied it at 54 with 7 seconds to play on a putback by Chrishauna Parker.
Scaife took the inbounds pass and raced downcourt to score the winning points to quiet UTEP's home sellout crowd of 12,222.
"I just knew we had to get down the floor and score," said Scaife, a freshman who was named the tournament MVP. "I'm happy it went in.
"I'm just happy we finished the season off like this."
Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer, who won her 929th game, said her team did well to win in a tough environment -- and for the third straight time on the road.
"First of all, I think give credit to UTEP," she said. "Great crowd, outstanding team and a great coaching job. They really truly are an outstanding team. I think that, easily, UTEP could've been an NCAA (tournament) team.
"But what's most important -- I thought that we probably got the greatest experience of them all, because I don't think it could be rougher than that. I know it can't be rougher than that in the Final Four."
Rutgers was led by Kahleah Cooper and Scaife, who each finished with 18 points, and Briyona Canty with 12. UTEP got 16 points from Kristine Vitola and 11 from Jenzel Nash.
Both teams were playing in the 64-team WNIT for the first time and both entered on a five-game tournament win streak. Yet despite outscoring the Knights 28-26 in the second half, it was UTEP that came up one play short.
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