Jacqui Grant tied a career-high with 15 points and No. 6 seed DePaul placed four players in double figures, but its season ended with an 83-71 loss to No. 2 seed Oregon State on Saturday afternoon at the American Airlines Center.
"We did not execute on some things and we executed really well on others, Grant said. "I am excited for next year, but this one stings."
Grant scored DePaul's first seven points and DePaul led 9-2 early before OSU countered with a 13-0 run and never trailed again.
“[OSU's] length and that they are a lot bigger than us made it difficult to get to the rim as we have in other games," DePaul's Jessica January (team-high 20 points and four assists) said.
January moved into 22nd place all-time in scoring at DePaul.
Oregon State (31-4) got a career-high 38 points from Jamie Weisner, who finished with 11 first quarter points, and OSU shot 63 percent (5-8) from behind the arc in that quarter, but DePaul trailed just 21-17, at the end of one quarter.
"We played really well in the first half and we shot really well and we have 45 points on the board, and [we were only up seven points]," OSU coach Scott Rueck said. "I walked into the locker room and said 'this is going to be a flat-out war.'"
DePaul (27-9) went on to outscore OSU 22-21 in the fourth quarter, and its 71 points are the second most points given up by the Beavers in OSU's last 21 games. OSU came into the game No. 1 in Division I in field goal percentage defense at 31.2 percent, No. 4 in scoring defense at 50.4, and No. 14 three-point FG defense 26.6 percent. DePaul shot 40.9 percent (27-66) for the game and 40.7 (11-27) percent from behind the arc. The Blue Demons' field goal percentage of 50.8 and three-point shooting percentage of 48.7 both ranked fourth in the NCAA tournament.
DePaul closed to 45-38 on January's three-pointer to end the half. OSU's Ruth Hamblin's layup at 6:44 of the third quarter finished a 12-2 OSU run and gave the Beavers a 60-46 lead. Weisner's layup with 1:23 gave OSU its biggest lead of the game at 62-46. DePaul had a scoring drought of 5:56 before Mart'e Grays' (14 points and six rebounds) three-pointer ended the third quarter.
The closest DePaul could get in the fourth quarter was 66-58 on a three-point play by Brooke Schulte with 7:51 to play. Schulte finished with nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
This game closed out for the DePaul with coach Doug Bruno hugging his two seniors, Chanise Jenkins and Megan Podkowa, when he took them out with 18 seconds left to play.
"I told them they have given themselves, they have given each other, and they have given DePaul a very, very great season," Bruno said.
It may be true that everything that rises must converge, and if so, DePaul did both this year.
The Blue Demons finished with a school-record 746 assists; its 20.8 apg average is the best in school history; and its 28 wins is third-most in school history.
Team chemistry is one thing; team friendship quite another. And DePaul had both, with seniors Jenkins and Podkowa leading the way. Podkowa recalls a day in mid-season when she and Jenkins further forged those bonds.
"It was a difficult day and were struggling and we were talking about how hard it is and how much we have to rely on each other and how we had to lead the team," Podkowa said.
Jenkins and Podkowa are part of the most successful senior class in DePaul history. The pair led DePaul to three-straight Big East Regular Season titles, two Big East Tournament championships, and four straight NCAAs which included two Sweet 16's.
Jenkins finishes her career ranked 12th in scoring and second in assists. The 2016 Big East Player of the Year also holds the DePaul record for 3-pointers in a game (10) and led the Blue Demons in scoring this season with 522 points. Her 1,605 career points finishes as the 11th most in school history. 227 steals is ninth all-time at school. She played in her 141st game at DePaul today, the most in school history.
Podkowa concludes her career one of DePaul’s best 3-point shooters as well as rebounder and shot blocker. Her .412 3-point field goal percentage ranks third all-time. Her 743 rebounds rank ninth and 128 blocks rank fifth. She had a 48.1 percent (52-of-108) three-point field goal percentage this season, setting a new DePaul standard.
But for as much as happened on Saturday, it may have been Jenkins' quote on Friday that summed up how DePaul played this season.
"Play selfless, unselfish, and share the ball."