DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -Rutgers survived a hostile environment and a fiesty effort from Iowa State to return to the round of 16.
Kia Vaughn scored 23 points to lead four players in double figures and Rutgers advanced to the regional semifinals for the fourth straight season by beating Iowa State 69-58 on Monday night.
The Scarlet Knights, who leaned on its stingy defense all season, shot over 50 percent for the second straight NCAA tournament game. Rutgers had reached that figure just nine times in their first 30 contests.
Epiphanny Prince scored 17 points, Matee Ajavon had 16 and Essence Carson added 10 for second-seeded Rutgers (26-6). The Scarlet Knights will face sixth-seeded George Washington, surprise winners over California, in the Greensboro Regional semifinals on Sunday.
Though Iowa State (21-13) never got closer than four in the second half, the Cyclones made Rutgers sweat it out. Allison Lacey hit two free throws with 1:29 left to pull Iowa State within 63-58, but Ajavon hit a pair of free throws and Prince broke Iowa State's press and found Vaughn for a layup with 19.6 seconds to seal the win.
The Scarlet Knights shot 54.2 percent from the field and outscored Iowa State 34-18 in the paint. Vaughn did most of the damage down low, scoring 17 points in the first half to help Rutgers go up by as much as 12.
Heather Ezell scored 19 to lead Iowa State, which played just 35 miles from their campus and was buoyed by a decidedly pro-Cyclones crowd.
The Cyclones were down by 12 at one point, crept back within four early in the second half. Vaughn then went to the bench with three fouls, and Iowa State looked like it had taken the momentum. But Prince buried two 3s from the same spot in the right corner to put Rutgers back up by 10, 51-41, with 12:40 left.
Iowa State's strategy was apparent from the opening tip. The Cyclones, one of the nation's better 3-point shooting teams, jacked up 14 3s in the opening half, hitting five. Rutgers countered by pounding it inside to Vaughn, and she muscled her way to 17 early points - including 12 straight at one point - to help the Scarlet Knights jump ahead by 12.
Ezell kept Iowa State within striking distance with 16 points in the first half. But Rutgers held her to 1-of-5 shooting in the second half.
The Cyclones took 26 of their 49 shots from beyond the arc, shooting 34.6 percent from 3-point range.
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