Hampton's Career-High Not Enough, DePaul falls to Notre Dame in the Semifinals

March 7, 2011

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HARTFORD, Conn. – In a game that played like a seesaw, Keisha Hampton’s career-high 31 points was unable to propel the No. 9/13 DePaul women’s basketball team past No. 10/8 Notre Dame in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship on Monday at the XL Center.

Skylar Diggins had 19 points and made several big plays down the stretch to help the Irish beat DePaul 71-67.

The Irish (26-6) had to survive another slugfest with their Midwestern rival to get there and earn their first win over a top 10 team since 2006.

Trailing 65-64 with 1:43 left, Diggins hit a lay-in to give the Irish a one-point lead. After Sam Quigley missed a lay-in, Diggins found Natalie Achonwa for a basket to make it 68-65.

Hampton got DePaul (27-6) within one with 27.6 left.

Diggins hit one of two free throws and Hampton turned it over on the next possession. Brittany Mallory hit two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to seal the win.

Hampton scored 31 points for DePaul.

"Hampton, wow. We couldn't stop her," Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said.

Connecticut beat Rutgers 75-51 in the first semifinal. It's not often that a UConn game feels like a warm-up act, but as has often been the case over the last few years the Huskies pretty much had it decided by the half.

DePaul and Notre Dame have built quite the rivalry over the past few seasons. Five of the previous seven meetings have been decided by five points or less for the Midwestern schools who are a short 2-hour drive apart.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno agreed that the proximity of the Midwestern catholic schools adds to the passion.

"It's a great rivalry and these players understand the intensity of the rivalry," he said. "It means more than just another college basketball game."

The two teams met last Monday and the Blue Demons rallied for a 70-69 victory as Felicia Chester hit a shot with just under 6 seconds left. That gave them the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

"This is kind of game you're going to play," Bruno said. "It's a tough basketball game that came down to a couple of possessions just like it did eight days ago, today we weren't on top."

The semifinal game was more of the same. Each time one team would make a run, the other responded. There were 11 lead changes in the second half alone.

Notre Dame erased a six-point halftime deficit and took its own six-point lead, 57-51.

DePaul battled back to tie the game at 57 on Hampton's free throw with 7:25 left.

The teams traded leads over the next five minutes.

The Irish led 61-60 when Becca Bruszewski got fouled on a lay-in. She limped off the court to the locker room and Natalie Novosel made one of the two free throws with 3:39 left to make it a two-point game.

Hampton responded with a three-point play to give the Blue Demons a 63-62 advantage. After Diggins hit two free throws, Hampton had another layup to make it 65-64 with 1:43 left.

DePaul was trying to advance to its first title game and now awaits the NCAA Championship Selection Show which will air on ESPN at 6 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 14. 

The Blue Demons will host its Annual Selection Show Party at McGrath-Phillips Arena.  Doors open at 5p.m., while a food and soda will be provided to all in attendance, free of charges.

Notes: Keisha Hampton recorded a career-high 31 points… second 30-point performance this season and in her career… her 31 points is the most scored by a BIG EAST player during the 2011 Championship… is the most in a BIG EAST Championship by a DePaul player…  Hampton has reached double-figures in 28 of DePaul’s of DePaul’s 32 games… Hampton was 11-of-22 from the field… her 11 field goals ties Championship-best while her 22 attempts is a DePaul record… Felicia Chester tied a season-high and DePaul BIG EAST Championship-best 11 rebounds… Chester has tallied 10 or more rebounds in five games this season and 13 times in her career…Chester has now appeared in a school-record 132 games… Sam Quigley did not have an assists, it ended a 93-game streak for the senior… DePaul is now 25-2 when leading at the half -- led 33-27…  DePaul is now 6-6 in BIG EAST Championship games and 26-19 in Conference Tournament games… 0-2 in BIG EAST Championship semifinals games… season-low nine assists… DePaul and Notre Dame split their games this season… DePaul still leads the all-time series 19-16… series is tied at one in games played at the BIG EAST Championship.



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