Blue Demons Top No. 11/10 Louisville
Jan. 5, 2013
CHICAGO, Ill. - What No. 11/10 Louisville and a fired-up, partisan McGrath-Phillips Arena crowd experienced on Saturday night was Doug Bruno-style DePaul basketball.
Sharing the ball, hitting big shots and maintaining their poise in crunch time sent the Blue Demons onto a memorable 86-80 victory over the Cardinals in both teams' BIG EAST Conference opener. It extended DePaul's winning streak to six in a row.
Anna Martin led the way with 22 points after scoring five in the first half when DePaul trailed by one point. Brittany Hrynko finished with 21 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals while a foul-plagued Jasmine Penny added 15 points.
At halftime, DePaul coach Bruno sat the team down for one of his patented talks that the nearly 50 former Blue Demons reunited on Alumnae Night remember well. Bruno made sure that Martin and Hrynko were front and center for his delivery.
"I sat the two of them in front of me and went at them," Bruno said. "They're both big-time guards and have to play in big-time games. They took Anna out of the game in the first half. I'm proud of the way Anna and Brittany brought us back in the second half."
A late Louisville rally brought the Cardinals within 80-76 with 2:01 left after a Shoni Schimmel 3-pointer. Monique Reid's basket made it 80-78 and culminated a 15-6 run.
Martin's driving layup gave DePaul an 82-78 lead with 59 seconds to go. Two clutch Hrynko free throws with 35.2 seconds showing on the clock upped the advantage to 84-78. Reid had a game-high 25 points for Louisville (12-3, 0-1) while Schimmel added 19 points.
"Every team has a unique opportunity during a season to define itself against top competition," Bruno said. "I'm proud of the way we came out ready and focused against a highly ranked Louisville team."
Trailing by one at halftime, DePaul (12-3, 1-0) came out strong at the outset of the second half. Martin and Penny ignited an 11-2 surge for a 52-44 lead. Louisville had closed the gap to 52-48 when Martin's three-pointer upped the margin to seven points.
After the Cardinals came within 52-48, five consecutive Martin points provided the biggest lead of the game to that point, 57-48. Megan Rogowski's three-pointer put DePaul in front 60-52 in the middle of the second half. A three by Hrynko made it 63-52.
Martin's three culminated a 13-4 run as the Blue Demons shot out to a 70-56 lead with 9:29 left in the game. Consistent offense from Martin, Hrynko and Penny kept DePaul comfortably in front as the stretch run approached.
"I was hoping we could make the lead even bigger," Martin said. "There was a stretch near the end of the game when Louisville made it difficult for us to score."
The finish was much too close for Bruno.
"We were able to build a big enough cushion to hold on down the stretch," Bruno said. "I wasn't happy with our defense in crunch time."
McGrath-Phillips has been a dangerous place for nationally ranked teams as Louisville discovered Saturday night. Since the 2010-11 season, the Blue Demons are 7-1 against Top 25 opponents including a victory over No. 3/2 Stanford two seasons ago.
"I was excited after the game," Martin said. "It brought me back to the Stanford moment when I was a sophomore."
There was a whole another level of intensity on DePaul's home court. Louisville was the highest-ranked team to visit Lincoln Park so far this season.
An early 12-2 DePaul run sparked by Martin's five points put the home team in front 17-12. The Cardinals behind Bria Smith came back to tie it 24-24.
Hrynko's three-pointer gave the Blue Demons a 31-26 lead with less than seven minutes to go in the first half. A Chanise Jenkins three followed by Hrynko's driving layup extended the lead to 38-31 with just over four minutes left.
Back came the Cardinals with a six-point burst. Reid's layup gave Louisville a 42-41 lead at halftime. The biggest lead by either team in an evenly matched first 20 minutes was DePaul's seven-point advantage.
DePaul returns to the court with a 6 p.m. BIG EAST game Wednesday at Villanova.