Rutgers retires former star Cappie Pondexter's jersey
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Cappie Pondexter had to fight back tears as Rutgers retired her jersey at halftime of their game against Duke on Thursday night.
The former Rutgers basketball star became the third women's player at the school to have that honor, with her No. 25 joining June Olkowski and Sue Wicks in the rafters. Pondexter helped the Scarlet Knights reach the NCAA Tournament regional final her junior season.
''I was holding back tears, I can't lie about that,'' Pondexter said. ''Rutgers doesn't retire jerseys often. To be part of that means a lot, the company I'm in. ... Sometimes as an athlete you forget about the hard work you put in. I've come full circle, hearing all the accolades I accomplished in college.''
Pondexter averaged 18.3 points in her four years at Rutgers and finished as the school's second-leading scorer. She went on to win two championships with the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, who drafted her second in 2006, as well as an Olympic gold medal in 2008.
''I always tell people my gold medal was my fondest (memory),'' Pondexter said. ''This is now. Everybody doesn't have their jersey retired at their school and university.''
Pondexter also had a locker named in her honor in the new practice facility. The halftime ceremony began with some of her former teammates bringing Pondexter's banner to center court. The former star was also given a framed jersey.
The 33-year-old guard knew exactly how to play to the crowd saying at the end of the ceremony, ''happy I was here instead of UConn.''
Her college choices came down to the two programs and she chose the New Jersey school. She was part of many big games against the Huskies
''I can remember the rivalry with UConn ...,'' she said. ''I'll always remember that decade where myself, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, we're competitors and that's what we did at the end of the day.''
Rutgers is long gone from the Big East, having moved to the Big Ten a few years ago. The program has struggled recently and is going through a really tough season so far. The Scarlet Knights have won just one game and star player Tyler Scaife is sitting out this season.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg