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Rutgers women cruise past Louisiana Tech

BOSSIER CITY, La. -- April Sykes and her Rutgers teammates enjoyed the silence.

Sykes scored 22 points and Rutgers quieted an overwhelmingly hostile crowd while cruising to a 76-51 victory over Louisiana Tech last night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Khadijah Rushdan added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Scarlet Knights (20-12), who move on to the second round at the Shreveport site tomorrow night against second-seeded Texas A&M (28-5), a blowout winner over McNeese State.

Adrienne Johnson scored 20 points for 10th-seeded Louisiana Tech (24-8), which was playing only an hour from its campus in Ruston.

Brietta Thomas scored 12 points.

Rutgers scored 40 points inside and shot 51 percent, while holding Tech to only 27 percent shooting.

Chelsey Lee had 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots for Rutgers, which outrebounded Tech 44-34.

Although Louisiana Tech has made two straight NCAA tournaments since former Lady Techsters star Teresa Weatherspoon took over as coach a little more than two seasons ago, there have been first-round exits each time.

Louisiana Tech pulled into a tie at 14 on Johnson's layup as she was fouled with 11:17 to go in the first half. But just when it appeared Weatherspoon's squad was going to hold its own with that of her mentor, Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer, the Lady Techsters began to fall apart.

Sykes had a lot to do with that.

She scored the next seven points on two layups and a three, and Rushdan completed a 9-0 run with another layup as the Scarlet Knights began to pull away for good, closing the half on a 25-7 run.

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