No. 18/18 DePaul (4-2) got a combined 53 points from Brittany Hrynko, Jessica January, and Megan Podkowa, but fell to Northwestern 97-91 in double overtime at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
The Blue Demons let a five point lead slip away in the final two minutes versus Northwestern last year, losing 82-79.
“We were taught the lesson by Northwestern last year, so why do you have to learn it twice?” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno.
Hrynko’s full court drive and lay up with three seconds left in regulation to forge a tie at 73, almost made that the lesson moot, but a stretch of sloppy play by DePaul midway through the second half proved critical.
The Blue Demons led 56-53 with 13:55 remaining, but three turnovers over the next three minutes helped the Wildcats to an 11-0 run and a 64-56 lead.
“[At 56-53} we started throwing the ball away and we did some things that were not smart,” said Bruno. “That is when the game turned.”
Northwestern (5-0) had been No. 1 in the country in scoring defense at 44.5 ppg, but DePaul reached that mark with 17:10 left to play on a three-pointer by January to give the Blue Demons a 46-42 lead.
The teams had combined for 35 assists per game, and they had 36 total tonight. The Wildcats’ Ashley Deary leads the nation in assists at 5.8 per game, but was held to two assists tonight.
But this game was a magnification of what Bruno has talked about- and feared- in this early season: lack of an inside game.
Northwestern scored 50 points in the paint, with Nia Coffey dominating on the block with 23 points on 10-19 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds. DePaul was outrebounded 54-46 for the game. The Wildcats shot 52.8 percent from the field, while DePaul shot 37.9 percent despite getting up 23 more shots.
The Blue Demons had tied the game at 69 on a free throw by January. The Blue Demons’ Centrese McGee then scored on a lay up, but was called for a technical foul for reaching over the baseline on the ensuing inbounds pass. Maggie Lyons made both technical free throws to set up Hrynko’s full court game-tying lay up.
The Blue Demons have forced at least 22 turnovers in each game this year, and forced 27 tonight, scoring 21 points off them. DePaul had just four fast-break points.
There were 23 lead changes and 13 ties, and neither team led by more than eight points. DePaul shot 37.9 percent from the field. The Blue Demons are 4-0 this year when shooting 40 percent or better from the field.
Jenkins made her only three-pointer of the game in the first overtime, giving DePaul a 76-75 lead. Hrynko’s three-point play pushed the lead to 82-79 with 1:54 left to play before Deary’s three-pointer from the top of the key with the shot clock winding down knotted the game at 82. Lyon’s potential game-winning shot from just over half court struck the rim and bounced out.
DePaul never led in the second overtime, getting within one point twice, and the Wildcats made five of six free throws in the final minute.
Hrynko finished with a team-high19 points and a game-high six assists. January scored 18 points and had a game-high seven steals. Podkowa had DePaul’s only double double with 16 points and 16 rebounds to go along with a team-high two blocks. Megan Rogowski added 14 points for DePaul. Rogowski and January have both scored in double figures in each game this year.
DePaul starts the Big East season this Wednesday versus Butler at home on Field Trip Day.
“We’ll find out what we learned from [this game] on Wednesday.” said Bruno.
Notes: The series with Northwestern is now tied 16 apiece, with DePaul having won eight of the last 11 meetings.
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