DePaul showed plenty of fight in the last twelve minutes of its game against No. 2 Notre Dame, but the Blue Demons were unable to overcome Skylar Diggins' triple double, falling to the Fighting Irish, 84-56, Sunday afternoon before a sold-out crowd at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
The Blue Demons had their 13-game home win streaked snapped with this loss. DePaul is now 44-4 at home over the last three years and 7-2 versus Top 25 teams in the last nine meetings.
Notre Dame, which had not played in 13 days, opened the game on a 22-8 run, and started the second half on a 15-3 run. Diggins scored 12 of her 17 points during that opening run. She added 10 points and 10 assists.
"Skylar is a great player when she is not scoring and she then becomes a great player as a game manager," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. "Those are traits that are very unique. She has the chance to take the game to the level of [ex-Connecticut stars] Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi."
But then there were those last twelve minutes.
Notre Dame (25-1, 13-0 Big East) held its largest lead at 55-20 with 14:45 left to play.
"I was not pleased today with what we showed for the first three quarters of the game," said Bruno. "You can't just sit there and take it without fight. That is what our program has always been about, fighting and competing."
"I just said I have seen enough of this and you are going to exhaust yourselves, we are going to pick them up full court, we are going to chase them all over the gym, exhaust yourself for two minutes, raise your hand, come out, and we will play everybody."
A layup by DePaul's Kelsey Smith at 12:27 cut the lead to 58-27.
Brittany Hrynko scored eight of her team-high 15 points in the final 12:00. Megan Rogowski, still playing with a broken shooting hand, added nine of her 14 points during that stretch.
DePaul outscored Notre Dame 31-26 in the final 12 minutes.
Rogowski said that she did not shoot the ball for roughly four weeks after initially breaking the hand. "I just had to get my wrist strength back. Each day it feels better and it is getting a lot stronger."
Hrynko guarded Diggins for most of the game. She added four rebounds and four steals.
"Brittany is a player that is growing all the time," said Bruno. "We saw some great plays by her tonight."
Hrynko, currently second at DePaul all-time for three-pointers in one season, showed that her game is as much fight as it is arc with her dive for a loose ball at mid court with seven minutes to play.
DePaul (18-9, 7-6 Big East) played its eighth straight game without pre-season All-America selection, Anna Martin.
"[Martin] is the key to their team," said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. "They are not the same without her. And we had some good practice players to simulate what DePaul would do. They are a really good team and she adds so much to their team."
Megan Podkowa added nine points and six rebounds for DePaul in a starting role. Jasmine Penny scored eight points and had eight rebounds for the Blue Demons.
Katherine Harry's blocked shot moved her into a tie with Jamie Smith (1999-03) for No. 3 all-time in blocks at DePaul. Harry added a game-high tying 10 rebounds today.
Notre Dame closed the first half on a 10-run and led 40-17, holding DePaul to its lowest first half point output this season.
"As the head coach of this program, I have really been in a place of struggle," said Bruno. "We have lost our best player in three out of the last four years. This year it has been more of struggle, and I have not been able to figure out how best to restructure how we play."
"We are still trying to find ourselves, and we can still get a lot done this year."
The last twelve minutes of today's game may well serve as a compass for his team.
DePaul plays Georgetown at home this Tuesday as part of Senior Night. The game starts at 8:00 CST and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
- DePaul is now 5-4 without Anna Martin.
- DePaul and Notre Dame played each other 37 times before today. Notre Dame's point total in those games was 2,525. DePaul's point total was 2,523.
- The series is now tied at 19.
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