DePaul women give up 11-point 1st-half lead
DePaul was aggressive and opportunistic for the first 19 minutes
against No. 5 Kentucky.
However, an early 11-point lead slipped away as the visiting
Wildcats forced a halftime tie and then took command in the second
half on the way to beating the Blue Demons 96-85 Thursday
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,” Blue Demons 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
Instead it was a returning hometown player who did much of the
damage against them as Kentucky freshman guard Linnae Harper scored
18 points off the bench in her first visit back home.
”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 (10-0) 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
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-all halftime tie and took the
lead for good after Harper’s jumper put the Wildcats ahead 60-59
with 14:15 left.
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 its biggest lead to at
66-61 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.
The game was also a homecoming for Wildcats sophomore starter
Both she and Harper starred on Chicago-Whitney Young High
School’s 2012 unbeaten Class 4A state champions and had their
respective numbers retired by the school on Wednesday.
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.