Anna Martin scored a game-high 27 points and Jasmine Penny added a career-high 16 as DePaul won its 22nd consecutive home game, defeating Loyola-Chicago 70-65, but its list of injured players got longer.
“Nobody cares when you are banged up,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “We have been playing with four players down and tonight we played without Keisha [Hampton] for all intents and purposes.”
Hampton, coming off a career-high 32 point effort against Northwestern, played just 15 minutes tonight. She did not practice all week and is listed as day- to-day.
Martin, 20th in the country in scoring at 21.0 ppg, entered tonight’s game with six consecutive double-digit scoring games. She went 10-21 from the field and 3-6 from behind the arc to help offset the loss of Hampton.
“I didn’t look at it [the injuries] as pressure,” said Martin. I trust everyone on the floor. Jasmine [Penny], Brittany [Hrynko], Katherine [Harry], everyone is capable of scoring, but it’s really nice to have Keisha’s presence on defense and on offense.”
No. 22/21 DePaul has now beaten the Ramblers (4-3) in the last 18 meetings between the two teams, but Bruno said “this is one of the best Loyola teams we have faced in my 26 years [at DePaul].”
And for this game, DePaul looked bad, then great, and then good enough to win.
The bad was a 29-25 halftime lead. DePaul has not trailed at the half this year, but eight turnovers by the Blue Demons and 20 points in the paint by the Ramblers kept the game tight.
“It the first half we were just a frenetic mess,” Bruno said. “There was no cohesion at all.”
Bruno told his team at halftime to get the ball inside, and with that instruction the great started to happen.
DePaul began the half on a 10-3 run, with seven of those points by Penny.
“In the first half I was standing around and the coaches were getting on me about that and about not wanting the ball, so in the second half I tried to come out and be more of a presence and score,” said Penny.
A three-pointer from Martin gave DePaul its biggest lead at 45-30 with 14:15 left to play.
Then the good enough to win kicked in.
Loyola clawed back over the next 13:00, cutting DePaul’s lead to 63-60 on a jumper by Patrice King (team-high 26 points) with 2:08 left to play.
A rebound and put back by Harry (9 points and a game-high and season-high 15 rebounds) was answered by four points from King and DePaul led 68-63 with 22 seconds left to play.
With DePaul leading by six with 11 seconds left, Penny sank one free throw after a Loyola lane violation to put the Blue Demons up 70-63.
DePaul, the top free throw shooting team in the Big East at 82 percent, shot just 54 percent from the line (17-31) tonight.
And as tough as the injuries have been for DePaul (6-1), the upcoming part of the schedule will make things even tougher for them as the Blue Demons play seven games in nine days. That stretch starts this Wednesday as DePaul opens Big East play at home at 12:00 noon against St John’s and it includes last year NCAA tournament qualifiers Tennessee, Princeton and Arizona State.
- DePaul unveiled its scoreboard at McGrath-Phillips Arena tonight. The old scoreboard had been brought over from Alumni Hall.