The University of Cincinnati men's basketball team defeated Rutgers on Wednesday night by a final score of 71-59. The win gives the Bearcats (11-6, 1-3 Big East) their first win in conference. The Scarlet Knights (9-9, 0-5 Big East) failed to secure their first conference in a game which without a doubt should be considered a tale of two halves.
"I think it's great to get a win," said Cronin. "I wasn't as concerned with it eventually coming as other people were. It's not about one win. But you do need the first win to get number two."
The Bearcats, who were playing to keep their season hopes alive, got off to a very sluggish start, missing 18 consecutive shots at one point to put themselves in a 16 point hole with a little over five minutes remaining in the half.
The Bearcats finished that half an abysmal 26 percent from the floor, but in the second half things would go a little more smoothly.
"Our shots didn't fall early on," said Vaughn. "They were in the defense we thought they would be in, and we knew our shots would start to fall in the second half. We didn't ever lose confidence."
The Bearcats found themselves in a 36-29 hole to start the second half, but a 9-2 to get things started pulled the two teams even. From there Bearcats never looked back, pushing their lead to ten early in the half and never relinquishing it.
Junior Deonta Vaughn and Senior Mike Williams took control of the game, and each turned in a great performance for the Bearcats on this night. Williams finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds, 5 of which came on the offensive end.
"I'm more settled now coming off of two years not playing and then going through a year with an injury," said Williams. "I think I am finally settled. I knew as long as I stayed positive I would play well and everything would work out."
Vaughn, meanwhile, cashed in 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. 19 of those points came in the second half, and he often made the backbreaking shot when Rutgers appeared to be making a run.
Vaughn and Williams were without a doubt the two MVPs of this game, but the entire Bearcats team deserves credit for their second half comeback. As a team in the second half, the Bearcats shot 50 percent from the field, while holding Rutgers to 29 percent from the field and 10 percent from beyond the arc. In whole, the Bearcats finished the day shooting nearly 40 percent from the field.
While the first half was definitely one to forget, the Bearcats say they still take solace in the fact that they did not fold and came out ready to go in the second half.
"Vaughn stepped up to the plate with a great second half," said Cronin. "We got great leadership from him and Mike."
The Bearcats are no doubt ecstatic to have their first, in what they hope will be a string of many conference victories. But things will only get tougher for the 'Cats as they have three straight road contests including one against a Providence team that defeated them earlier this season in The Shoemaker Center.