#10 DePaul Survives Rutgers' Late Charge

CHICAGO- Big East women's basketball coaches use the word "tough" a lot when describing their conference. Exhibit A of the conference could certainly be the DePaul versus Rutgers game at McGrath Arena Tuesday night.

Rutgers had a tough first half and DePaul used its toughness to withstand the second half as the Blue Demons beat Rutgers 66-62.

#10 DePaul made its first five shots of the game, all three pointers, to move out to a 15-3 lead 4:00 into the game.

"We needed to identify those people we needed to guard above the three point line and we obviously did not," said Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer. "The next thing you know you are down by 19."

Keisha Hampton's three pointer (game high 22 points) with 1:47 left in the half gave DePaul that 19-point lead and the Blue Demons led 41-25 at the break.

DePaul had 15 assists on 16 baskets in the first half and made nine three pointers to nine total field goals for the Scarlet Knights.

But with Stringer having won 857 games in her career, DePaul coach Doug Bruno said after the game what most fans were probably thinking at the half.

"I was never comfortable, even with a 19-point lead."

And as clockwork goes, it was Rutgers turn to get tough.

"One of the things we have been struggling with is that as soon as we go down like that, we are generally dead," said Stringer. "But maybe this team has finally learned how to fight."

With DePaul leading 50-34 with 14:28 left to play, Rutgers held the Blue Demons scoreless for the next 5:30 while going on a 19-5 run to close to 55-53 on two free throws by Khadijah Rushdan with 5:37 left to play.

But one statistic the Scarlet Knights have had a tough time with this year is that they were 3-10 before tonight's game when trailing with five minutes left to play.

After Rushdan's free throws the teams combined for three consecutive turnovers before Taylor Pikes knocked down a jumper to move DePaul ahead 57-53 with 4:31 left. Another jumper by Pikes at the 1:17 mark gave the Blue Demons a 61-53 lead.

DePaul (24-3, 11-1 Big East) shot 5-8 from the line in the final 1:04 to seal the win. April Sykes' three-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer completed the scoring.

Bruno viewed this game as a much needed learning experience for his team.

"We have a pretty good opportunity to play in March and these are the kinds of experiences that we are going to need to be able to weather and to handle in March."

Sam Quigley added 14 points for DePaul on 4-5 shooting from the field. Felicia Chester scored 11 points. Pikes scored all 10 of DePaul's bench points and she added seven rebounds and four assists.

Sykes led Rutgers (14-11, 7-5 Big East) with 15 points.

DePaul stays at home to play #15 Georgetown this Sunday at 4:30 CST.

Notes:

- Hampton was awarded her 1,000 point game ball before the game.

- DePaul and Connecticut are the only two Big East teams that are unbeaten at home.


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