DePaul got double figures from each of its starters and began the first half and second half on strong runs in defeating the tenth-seeded Brigham Young Cougars 59-55 in NCAA tournament first round play.
Each team used its weapons accordingly.
For DePaul, it was a balanced attack. For BYU, it was size and Steed.
After the Blue Demons opened the game on a 10-1 run, BYU substituted in 6'7" sophomore Jennifer Hamson and the complexion of this game completely changed. Hamson scored 14 first half points as BYU led at the half 29-27.
But with the offensive advantage of size comes its sometimes darker defensive side, foul trouble.
Hamson picked up two fouls in the half's last two minutes, and both DePaul fans and BYU fans could sense a tidal change.
"[Hamson] getting in foul trouble hurt us because she was the only one who could really stop [Katherine Harry]," said BYU forward Kristen Riley.
That tidal change included DePaul coming out from its man-to-man defense and switching to a 2-3 match up zone as the Blue Demons started the second half on a 14-0 run.
"[DePaul] got a running start in the second half. That put us in a hole we had to dig out of the entire half," said BYU guard Haley Steed.
Hamson picked up her fourth foul with 14:44 left to play and with that, Harry dominated inside the rest of the game.
Harry scored eight of her 12 points and grabbed six of her nine rebounds in the second half.
"[Hamson] is athletic and can make plays," said Harry. "I was trying not to let that get into my head and tried not to make too many changes in letting her disrupt my shot."
Harry's lay up gave DePaul a 45-34 lead with 9:56 left to play.
But with their size somewhat depleted, the Cougars still had Steed.
Her three-pointer cut DePaul's lead to 45-40.
Two free throws by Brittany Hrynko gave the Blue Demons a 49-40 lead and her assist to Jasmine Penny (12 points) pushed the lead to 51-43.
A lay up by Lexi Eaton pulled BYU to 58-53 with just under one minute left.
"We talked [during BYU's run at the end of the game] about how it was really important to take care of the ball," said DePaul's Anna Martin. "Everyone seemed to be in a rush, so we said ‘calm down, take care of the ball, we're going to win this game."
Steed's three-point attempt to tie with three seconds left bounced off the back rim and Hrynko grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
Hrynko finished with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
"I thought [Hrynko] played a really good game," said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. "She got her team in it and made some big baskets when [DePaul] needed it."
No basket by Hrynko was bigger than her free throw with two seconds left to seal the win.
Perhaps Penny best summed up her team's philosophy during the entire forty minutes: "Playing together and sticking together as a team the whole time is what got us through."
BYU, 14th in the country in field goal percentage defense at 34.4 percent, allowed DePaul to shoot 42.6 percent (23-54) for the game.
DePaul held the Cougars below their season averages in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage.
Martin finished with a team-high 17 points.
Hamson scored a game-high 21 points and had 11 rebounds for BYU.
DePaul last played an NCAA tournament game at Allstate Arena in 2006. That team eventually advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The seventh-seeded Blue Demons will have to get past second-seed Tennessee Monday night at 8:30 CST at Allstate Arena to have a chance to duplicate that feat.
The Blue Demons lost to the Volunteers 84-61 on December 11 of this year.
Tennessee beat Tennessee-Martin 72-49 in the afternoon game.
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