DePaul’s Chanise Jenkins scored a game-high 19 points and Villanova missed a shot to tie the game with seconds left as the Blue Demons edged the Wildcats 49-47 Sunday afternoon at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
“When we play Villanova I have the same choice to make, and that is to be happy that we win the battle of the tempo or be happy that we win the battle of the game,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “As much as we try to score 80 or 90 against Villanova, we will take any kind of win we can get and any score we can get it in.”
Villanova (13-10, 7-4) came into this game No. 1 in the country in both turnovers per game at 8.7 and assist/turnover ratio at 1.74. The Wildcats committed their first of 13 turnovers 90 seconds into the game and had nine turnovers in the first half. Villanova had a final assist/turnover ratio of .923. DePaul held the Wildcats to a season first half low 17 points.
“I thought our first half defense was probably the best first half of defense we have played all year,” said Bruno.
Jenkins shot 3-3 from the floor and scored eight of DePaul’s first 14 points as the Blue Demons jumped out to a 14-7 lead midway through the first half. Centrese McGee’s steal was the Wildcats’ seventh turnover of the first half and her pass to Lauren Prochaska, who passed it to Jessica January for a three-pointer, gave DePaul a 25-9 lead.
The Wildcats answered with Alex Louin’s three-pointer, which capped an 8-0 run before Brooke Schulte’s three-pointer with 13 seconds left in the half gave the Blue Demons a 28-17 halftime lead.
The Blue Demons’ 28 first half points and 49 total points are both season lows.
DePaul (17-6, 9-2) lost at Villanova 79-76 in overtime earlier this year, giving up a five point lead with 90 seconds to play. Jenkins spoke about the difference between the two games.
“[The difference today] was staying composed and staying focused. Just like the last game, we had a quick start and we lost focus after coming back after halftime and I think the team did a good job of staying together.”
And DePaul stayed together in the final seconds.
Villanova had the ball out of bounds on their sideline with 12 seconds left when McGee deflected a Caroline Coyer pass near midcourt. Villanova scrambed to get a shot off and Taylor Holeman’s four-footer rolled off the rim to the right and was rebounded by DePaul’s Megan Podkowa as the game ended.
Jenkins’ jumper at 14:24 gave DePaul a 36-24 lead, but the Blue Demons were held scoreless over the next seven minutes. A three-pointer and a layup by Coyer cut the lead to 36-34. Podkowa’s jumper made it 41-37 and Jenkins’ three-pointer from the right wing after two consecutive offense rebounds made it 42-37 at 5:39. Holeman’s three-point play with 54 seconds left cut the lead to 47-45.
“I think our [three] guard play is some of the best in the country,” said Bruno, and he was right on target as Brittany Hrynko made a no-look pass underneath to Brooke Schulte for a layup with 39 seconds left, setting up Holeman’s final miss.
Guards Jenkins, Hrynko, and Jessica January combined for 34 points and 10 assists. January added a team-high nine rebounds.
Podkowa injured her right ankle midway through the first half, but returned five minutes later. She scored nine points and has six rebounds.
Holeman had 10 points and 18 rebounds to lead Villanova.
DePaul leads the country in ppg at 90.0 but, according to Bruno, games like this one will benefit his team in the coming months.
“As tournament basketball comes into vision, you have to be able to play grunt games and grind games.”
He may not have to look that far as DePaul, currently tied for second place in the Big East with Butler, plays the Bulldogs this Friday before crucial conference games at home against St. John’s and conference leader Seton Hall in mid-February.
Notes: Villanova coach Harry Perretta and Bruno have a combined 1,291 wins at their respective schools...Villanova is now 0-7 at McGrath-Phillips Arena...DePaul won its last three games by an average of 38 points...DePaul is now 116-77 in games played on a Sunday.
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