Brittany Hrynko scored a season-high 23 points to lead DePaul to a 79-67 win over Providence in front of 3,430 fans at McGrath-Phillips Arena Saturday night, but the Blue Demons lost leading scorer Anna Martin to a left knee injury early in the first half.
Once Martin went out, DePaul (14-5, 3-2 Big East) was left with seven players, an unwelcome throwback to last year when the team had seven players for most of the year, also due to injuries.
"At some point in time [the injuries] are going to end," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. "At some point we are going to have everybody together and have everybody play. I would like to hope it is this year."
The Blue Demons led 43-28 at the half, and had their biggest lead of 20 points with 7:05 left to play.
But it was the first half that tested what Bruno refers to as "our adversity quotient."
"One of our motto's is to make adversity our friend."
Based on that, there was plenty of best-friending going on in the first 20 minutes.
Hrynko picked up her second foul three minutes into the game and did not return until the 9:01 mark.
DePaul fell behind 4-0, but then went on a 15-0 run, capped by Kelsey Reynolds' three-pointer from the left corner. Reynolds saw her first action after missing six games with a stress fracture in her foot.
At 14:37 Martin limped off the court with her knee injury. An icepack was placed on the knee, and then a brace. She did not return. Her injury status is unknown.
"This happened to us last year [with Keisha Hampton's injury]," said DePaul's Jasmine Penny. "We know that we have to stay and play strong no matter what. We just focus on the people that we do have available."
At 8:34 Katherine Harry picked up her second foul.
The Friars (5-12, 0-4 Big East) closed to 23-16 before a three-pointer by DePaul's Megan Podkowa.
At this point in the season Bruno pretty much knows what he is going to get from his starters: solid games, and tonight was no exception.
Penny added 18 points, Harry had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Chanise Jenkins scored seven points, had seven assists and two steals.
But with Martin going down, how well this team responds in the near term could well depend on how Reynolds and Podkowa respond.
So far, so good.
Reynolds scored eight points on 3-5 shooting and Podkowa scored nine points, had six rebounds and distributed four assists.
"Reynolds gave us some very important minutes tonight," said Bruno.
"Another factor with the injury situation is we played 14 non-conference games," said Bruno. "Podkowa played in four of them [due to being out with mononucleosis]. She is getting her experience on the fly and against Big East competition. I think she is responding very well."
Reynolds sank her other three-pointer off an assist from Hrynko with three seconds left in the first half.
"What makes the Big East so strong is that everybody is good," said Bruno. "I told our players before the game that this is the same team that beat us a year ago."
Providence put three players in double figures and was led Tori Rule's 19 points. The Friars lost 70-62 to No. 15 Louisville last week.
"I am still shook up about the constancy of our players going down," said Bruno. "It is hard to watch these kids, who are like your own children."
DePaul travels to play Cincinnati this Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. CST before returning home to play Pittsburgh next Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
- Katherine Harry was honored before the game for grabbing her 1,000th rebound, which she did last week against Syracuse.
- Harry is now tied for fourth all-time at DePaul in rebounding with Debra Robinson and she is now 27th all-time in scoring.
- Rita Hale was inducted into the 2013 Hall of Fame as part of the halftime ceremonies. Hale helped lead DePaul to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 1990. She scored 1,217 points and grabbed 652 rebounds while at DePaul.
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