Rutgers' Stringer joins 800-win club

February 27, 2008 6:59:40 PM PST
The 800-win club has a new member: C. Vivian Stringer.Stringer joined Pat Summitt and Jody Conradt as the only women's basketball coaches to win 800 games as No. 4 Rutgers beat DePaul 60-46 on Wednesday night.

Knowing it was a special night, DePaul coach Doug Bruno had his entire team shake Stringer's hand during warmups. Bruno also coached DePaul when Summitt beat the Blue Demons for her 800th.

Essence Carson scored 20 points and Epiphanny Prince added 15 to lead Rutgers (23-4, 13-1 Big East), which moved into a tie with UConn atop the Conference. The Huskies visit DePaul on Saturday and the Scarlet Knights host Syracuse before a showdown Monday night with the Huskies in Hartford.

Everyone in the crowd was given signs marking the 800th victory. With 30 seconds left they gave the Hall of Fame coach a standing ovation and chanted her initials. When the clock reached zero, the players gave their coach the game ball.

Afterward, each player gave Stringer a single red rose. She addressed the crowd and thanked fans for their support.

"I've been blessed with great players and coaches. Not only from the players that are here, but the players over the years. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I've been the most fortunate person in the world, because every day I wake up and I'm so excited to coach basketball.

Winning low-scoring defensive games has been a trademark of Stringer's career. Fittingly, both teams struggled on the offensive end Wednesday night.

DePaul, which averages nearly 80 points, had season lows in points and field goal percentage (.305).

The Blue Demons (18-9, 7-7) had no answer for the Scarlet Knights' matchup zone. With only eight healthy players, Rutgers was forced to implement the defense against Providence on Saturday and it was extremely effective against DePaul.

Missy Mitidiero hit a career-high seven 3-pointers for 21 points to lead DePaul. Allie Quigley, the reigning Big East player of the week, was held to a season-low eight points - well short of her 19.3 average.

Trailing 36-30 midway through the second half, DePaul used an 11-5 run to tie the game at 41 on Mitidiero's sixth 3-pointer of the game with 6:47 left.

Rutgers responded with a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to put the game away. Prince had five points during the spurt. Quigley ended the run with a jumper, but DePaul could get no closer than nine the rest of the way.

In a sloppy first half, Rutgers went without a field goal for nearly 8½ minutes, but DePaul was unable to pull away. Trailing 11-7, the Scarlet Knights went on a 13-0 run to take a 20-11 lead with 5:46 left in the half. It was the last points that Rutgers would score before the break.

DePaul was held without a field goal for a 9-minute span as Rutgers took its lead. Taylor Pike finally ended the drought with a 3-pointer with 4:52 left before the half. Carson scored nine points and Prince had eight in the first half as the two teams combined for 27 turnovers.

Just before the scoreless stretch, DePaul reserve guard China Threatt injured her knee. After going back to the locker room she returned to the bench on crutches for the second half.

The victory was the 280th of Stringer's career at Rutgers. It's been her longest stop. She took over a foundering program and turned it into one of the best in the nation with two trips to the Final Four in her first 12 seasons.

Stringer got her start in 1973 at Cheyney State, sharing a cramped gym with legendary men's coach John Chaney. She took over a new program and in 12 years there guided the school to the Final Four in 1982 and won 251 games.

After Cheyney State, Stringer moved on to Iowa, where she stayed for 12 seasons, winning 269 games. She took the Hawkeyes to the Final Four in 1993 before leaving for Rutgers.

Matee Ajavon was honored before the game for becoming only the second Rutgers player to score 1,000 points and have 500 assists, joining assistant coach Tasha Pointer.