Chester and #12 DePaul Stun No. 7 Notre Dame

CHICAGO - Coming off two straight losses last week, DePaul was in need of a spark in Monday night's regular season finale against Notre Dame. What the Blue Demons got instead was a veritable forest fire.

Felicia Chester scored 16 of her game high 20 points in the second half and her layup with six seconds left helped DePaul upset the Fighting Irish, 70-69, before a sellout crowd at McGrath-Phillips Arena on Senior Night.

The win improved No. 12 DePaul's home win streak to 19 games, the ninth longest in the country. The Blue Demons are now 20-0 when scoring 70 or more points.

The 34th meeting between the schools proved to be as advertised. Notre Dame had won 19 of its last 21 games and DePaul was coming off its highest poll ranking in school history.

"We had a lot of motivation for this game," Chester said. "Notre Dame is a huge rival whether we are playing them the first game of the Big East season or the last game; we are fired up to play them."

The Blue Demons' Deirdre Naughton whipped the crowd into a early frenzy, nailing the game's first shot, a three pointer from the left corner. DePaul had its biggest lead of the half at 20-11 on a three pointer by Taylor Pikes (10 points) with 11:03 left . A layup by Notre Dame's Devereaux Peters whittled the lead to 32-26 at the half.

The Fighting Irish adjusted enough both offensively and defensively at halftime to start the second half on a 19-5 run to go up 45-37 with 13:41 left.

"We came out in the second half and Notre Dame really took it to us, had us chasing badly, we had no answers offensively and we were really in a state of temporary chaos," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said.

Notre Dame (24-6, 13-3 Big East) moved to its largest lead of the game on two free throws by Skylar Diggins, leading 58-49, with 6:57 to play.

A timeout by DePaul allowed Bruno to tell his team something he has been telling all of his teams in his 753 games of coaching at DePaul: turn adversity into an opportunity.

"We also talked about having the grit and the guts to hunker down and not quit and not give up," Bruno said. "There was a little shouting match going on. I yelled at the team 'does anybody here want to win?' and Sam Quigley yelled 'I want to win, do you guys want to win?"

Two free throws by Keisha Hampton (17 points), a steal and layup by Hampton, a jumper by Anna Martin (10 points) and a jump shot by Chester answered that question as the Blue Demons were within 58-57 at the 5:00 mark.

A twisting drive and layup from the right side by Martin sent the DePaul half of McGrath-Phillips into hysteria as the Blue Demons regained the lead, 59-58.

Peters' layup tied the game at 61 with 2:50 remaining.

Hampton's rebound and three-point play added to the noise level as DePaul led 64-61.

Notre Dame countered with a Diggins' free throw and a three-pointer from the left corner by Natalie Novosel to cut DePaul's lead to 66-65 with 1:17 left.

Pikes' layup off an assist from Quigley seemingly shut the door on Notre Dame as DePaul led 68-65 with 59 seconds remaining, but a Diggins' lay up followed by a Peters' lay up gave Notre Dame a 69-68 lead with 28 seconds left.

But it was Senior Night, and two seniors and a junior combined in the last seconds.

Quigley dribbled up the floor and DePaul spent 22 seconds looking for a shot when Pikes took the ball at the top of the key, drew a double team, and found Chester underneath for a layup.

"I am not sure what happened," Chester said. "I think I may have fallen on the floor, stood up and the ball was there. I was kind of in shock when it went in and it felt good to win in those last moments."

Notre Dame then frantically drove the length of the floor in the last six seconds, but a turnover by Brittany Mallory as the clock ran out left the Fighting Irish lying on the floor in disbelief and DePaul fans rushing the court.

With the win, DePaul finishes in second place in the Big East and is the No. 2 seed in this weekend's Big East tournament. The Blue Demons play a yet undetermined opponent at 5:00 CST on Sunday.

DePaul has defeated five Top 25 teams at home this year.

Notre Dame is 0-4 this year in games decided by five points or less. DePaul is 4-0 in that same scenario.

Diggins led Notre Dame with 18 points.

Notes:

- After the game DePaul honored this year's seniors: Chester, Naughton, Quigley, China Threatt and Jen Juergens.

- Chester was honored before the game with her 1,000 point game ball.


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