Blue Demons Fall in Season Finale
HOUSTON - The DePaul women's basketball team played one of their best halves of the season followed by one of their worst in Sunday afternoon's 80-72 loss at Houston. DePaul (15-12, 8-6 C-USA) scored a season-high 57 points in the first half and led by 19 points at the break only to see Houston (21-6, 11-3 C-USA) outscore the Blue Demons, 42-16, in the second stanza. Despite losing, the Blue Demons held on to the fourth seed and will receive a first-round bye in next weekend's Conference USA Tournament.
DePaul started the game by blistering the nets and raced out to a 24-12 lead with 11:15 left in the first half. All-American candidate Lenae Williams scored 16 points in the opening run for DePaul including all four of her three-pointers on the afternoon. The first-half advantage grew to as many as 17 points four times before Sarah Kustok hit a jumper at the buzzer to give DePaul the 57-38 lead at the break.
The second half was a different story as DePaul was just 8-for-32 from the field and 0-for-10 from three-point range. On the other hand, Houston stormed back with an 18-4 run that saw the DePaul led shrink to five points at 61-56 with 12:39 left in the game.
DePaul was able to keep the lead at five-to-seven points before the Cougars went on a 14-2 run to close the game and win by eight points. The run started with a pair of Shondra Bush layups to bring Houston within one point before Chandi Jones hit a jumper to give the Cougars the lead for good at 72-71 with 3:34 on the clock.
Williams led DePaul with 23 points while Jenni Dant added 17 and Jamie Smith scored 15 points. Smith also grabbed 11 rebounds to tally her first career double-double. Dant finished the day with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
With the first-round bye, the Blue Demons will face the winner of the Tulane-UAB game on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. DePaul beat both of those teams earlier this season. TCU took the top seed with a 12-2 league record followed by Houston, Cincinnati and DePaul.
All 11 games of the 2002 Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament will take place at the DePaul Athletic Center beginning Friday, March 1. Four games will be played on Friday and Saturday with the semifinals slated for Sunday afternoon and the championship on Monday at 7 p.m. The winner of the tournament receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.