Free Throws Doom DePaul Women

CHICAGO - The free throw line proved expensive for DePaul in Wednesday night’s matchup versus No. 5/4 Notre Dame.

Brittany Hrynko scored a team-high 32 points, but No. 25/25 DePaul shot 12-29 from the line for the game and fell to the Irish 94-93 in overtime at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

”I have been coaching 41 years and [that many missed free throws] has never happened,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “It happened.“

With DePaul (6-3) coming off a 53-point win against Chicago State on Sunday, and Notre Dame (9-1) coming off an 18-point loss to UConn on Saturday, high emotions from both teams could be expected. And it was BIG EAST Player of the Week Hrynko and ACC Player of the Week Jewel Loyd who gave the 3,414 in attendance a show.

Hrynko’s dazzling drives and purposeful passes combined with Lloyd’s Notre Dame-record-tying 41 points was a game within a game, though Loyd said after the game that she did not view the two performances as competition.

The competition was, instead, in the end, a matter of free throws. Notre Dame shot 21-26 from the line, with Loyd converting 15-18. DePaul shot 41 percent from the line, with Hrynko converting 5-16.

DePaul was down 61-54 after Notre Dame’s Taya Reimer made two free throws, but the Blue Demons then exploded on a 17-2 run which was started by Hrynko’s three-pointer and ended with Megan Rogowski’s three-pointer for a 71-63 DePaul lead with 7:31 to play.

“We knew [the pressure] was going to be a struggle,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “[DePaul] is a very good team. They are aggressive, they’re feisty, they shoot the ball well, and you have to guard everybody.”

The Blue Demons are No. 1 in the country in turnover margin at +15.3, and they forced a Notre Dame season-high 22 of them tonight, scoring 22 points off turnovers.

Reimer’s lay up tied the game at 82 with just under one minute to play. DePaul’s Megan Podkowa answered with a lay up to put the Blue Demons up by two before Hrynko fouled Loyd with 11 seconds to play.

And then came free throws.

Loyd made both shots and then she fouled Hrynko with two seconds left in regulation. Hrynko missed both free throws and the teams were headed to overtime.

The last time Notre Dame lost back-to-back games was on November 18 and November 21, 2010 to UCLA and Kentucky.

DePaul’s Chanise Jenkins was playing not fully recovered from an ankle sprain she sustained in the Bradley game. She played this game with 13 stitches in her forehead and wearing a protective mask after suffering a blow to the face in the Chicago State game. She hit her first shot of the game, a three-pointer, to give DePaul an early 7-3 lead. She finished with twelve points and a game-high 10 assists.

“Chanise showed up Monday morning after getting 13 stitches and she did not bat an eye or miss a beat,” said Bruno. “She walked in the gym, and a lot of lesser people would not have stuck a mask on their face and said ‘let’s go’.”

Loyd’s three-pointer got the Irish started in overtime, but Jenkins answered with a lay up from a Hrynko assist. Loyd followed with a three-point play and her jumper gave Notre Dame it’s biggest overtime lead at 92-88 with 2:16 left.

Hrynko’s two free throws, her first made free throws since the 4:50 mark of regulation, gave DePaul a 93-92 lead, and Notre Dame’s nation-leading 27 game road win streak was in jeopardy.

Rogowski then missed two free throws with 22 seconds left, but grabbed her own miss.

Hrynko then missed four straight free throws in 10 seconds. Jenkins fouled Loyd in the lane and her two free throws with five seconds left proved the difference. Hrynko’s one hand runner in the lane with one second left for the win skidded off the backboard.

“We were in a position to win the game,” said Bruno. “That is what our job is, and you just have to finish the game.”

DePaul travels to play Loyola next Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. before traveling to play No. 2/2 UConn two days later.

Notes: Notre Dame leads the series, which started in 1978, 21-19...nine of the last 17 games have been decided by single digits... Notre Dame’s second leading scorer, Brianna Turner, did not play due to a shoulder injury.

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