Harper, Evans get No. 5 Kentucky women past DePaul
Despite the distractions of her first visit back home, Kentucky
freshman Linnae Harper still managed to be all business on
The Wildcats’ reserve guard, a former Chicago high school star,
scored 18 points to lead No. 5 Kentucky to a 96-85 victory over
”I was very nervous, I hadn’t been home in a few months and I
was excited to be here,” said Harper, a 2012 state champion at
Whitney Young High School. ”But it was a business trip and we had
to come out and play hard.”
The Wildcats were without senior forward DeNesha Stallworth, the
team’s No. 2 scorer and rebounder, out two to four weeks after
undergoing arthroscopic surgery on her left knee on Wednesday.
So it was up to her teammates to pick up the slack and all 10
active players scored.
Kastine Evans scored 14 points, Samarie Walker had 13, Jennifer
O’Neill 12 and Makayla Epps 10 for the Wildcats.
”It’s a tough situation when you lose a significant
contributor, (Stallworth) is very important to us scoring,
rebounding, defensively,” Wildcats coach Matthew Mitchell said.
”Tonight we needed a balanced game from all 10 players. I didn’t
think we could get it done with five. Everyone had to play hard and
tough and the bench was outstanding.”
Harper’s 18 led a 45-point production from the reserves.
”I’m real proud for her,” Mitchell said. ”This could have
turned out to be a real poor showing with coming back to Chicago
and the emotion all tied into it. Tonight was the result of how
she’s been practicing.”
Kentucky pulled away from a 44-44 halftime tie and took the lead
for good after Harper’s jumper put the Wildcats ahead 60-59 with
14:15 left in the second half.
Brittany Hrynkko scored 20 points, Megan Rogowski had 19, and
Megan Podkowa and Jasmine Penny added 17 apiece as DePaul (4-3)
lost for the third time in four games.
”We played unintelligently after we earned an 11-point lead in
the first half,” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. ”We have to play
with intelligence and we didn’t. We have to defend, we didn’t. And
we got killed on the boards by a team that’s the same size we
Kentucky entered the game third in nation in scoring at 98.8
points per game – including and 103.8 per game over its last
DePaul’s Podkowa and Rogowski each had two 3 pointers and
combined for 17 points as the Blue Demons took a 21-10 lead less
than 7 minutes in.
Kentucky pulled within three points on five occasions over the
next 9 minutes but DePaul replied each time until the final
Hrynko’s 3 pointer gave the Blue Demons a 44-37 lead with 2:43
to play in the first half, and Jasime Penney’s layup kept it at
seven with 1:28 left.
The Wildcats closed the half with seven consecutive points in
the final 38 seconds, including five from Goss and a fast-break
layup by Azia Bishop with 12 seconds left, to tie the score at 44
at the break.
Kentucky took its first lead since the opening minutes at 50-49
on Evans’ layup with 17:30 left in the second half. It was
short-lived as Penny replied 20 seconds later with a jumper.
From there the game featured five lead changes and two ties
until the Wildcats pulled ahead for good at 60-59 on Harper’s
jumper with 14:15 left. Kentucky opened a 66-61 lead on Epps’
jumper a little more than 2 minutes later.
Kentucky’s lead hit double-digits at 83-73 with 4:07 to play on
Evans’ two free throws during a 9-0 run.
”We had to find enough defensive energy and get enough stops,”
Mitchell said. ”DePaul really was terrific tonight and made some
tough shots and were motivated to win. … (But) our players found
a way and really upped their energy level in the second half,”
The game was also a homecoming for Wildcats sophomore starter
Both starred on Whitney Young’s 2012 unbeaten Class 4A state
champions and had their respective numbers retired by the school on
The Blue Demons came in ranked fourth in Division I with 13.5
steals per game.
DePaul’s loss was just the third in 25 games at its on-campus
home. The Blue Demons are now 13-15 all-time against top-25
Kentucky is four wins away from 700 all-time.