Welcome Back, Kia

By Jeff Lippman - March 22, 2008

It must be something about the NCAA Tournament that awakens a sleeping giant within Kia Vaughn's 6-foot-4 frame.

The last time Vaughn saw 20 points next to her name on the stat sheet was in last year's National Championship game. She went this entire season without putting up the magic number, and at times looked visibly uncomfortable on the floor for the defending national runners-up.

She just wasn't the same Kia that dominated on Rutgers' journey to Cleveland last year. As if the regular season was nothing but a long waiting period between moments to shine, Vaughn rose to the occasion in the tournament once again.

Scoring a game high and personal season high 22 points to go with 11 rebounds, Vaughn made a statement. It may have only been a win over the 15-seed Robert Morris, but the nation should be on notice. The team that made it to Cleveland is back and Vaughn is their leader.

Robert Morris was used to scoring high figures. Their best player, Sade Logan, was averaging over 25 points per game.

Not this game.

The Colonials could barely get to 40, losing 85-42, and Logan could manage just 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting. The Scarlet Knights, on the other hand, scored well above their average.

Epiphanny Prince, Rutgers' leading scorer this season, finished with 21 points. And although Essence Carson and Matee Ajavon only scored single digits, their defensive efforts and specifically Ajavon's 10 assists, helped the Knights play a much quicker game than we are used to seeing.

It's the type of game we saw in last year's NCAA Tournament. And that should be a scary thought for Iowa State, who the Knights play in the second round after they beat the 10-seed Georgia Tech today, and any other team who stands in C. Vivian Stringer's way from now until Tampa.

And yes, that means you, Connecticut.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 04:29 PM on March 22, 2008

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