Jasmine Penny scored a game-high 21 points to help DePaul win its eighth straight game, beating Creighton 80-66, at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
The Blue Demons (19-5, 10-2 Big East), avenged an earlier loss this year to the Bluejays, a game where they held a 16-point first half lead, but ended giving up 38 points to McKenzie Fujan in an 86-78 loss.
Penny was lifted early today by DePaul coach Doug Bruno due to a perceived lack of aggressiveness.
“When the game started I had to give Jasmine a quick hook because she was not in attack mode,” said Bruno. “She is sometimes not in that selfish mode to score.”
“Once I got back in I focused on getting to the basket and getting to the free throw line,” said Penny.
She got into attack mode quickly, scoring 13 points on 7-10 shooting from the line for the half.
Her point total moves her into 18th place all-time in scoring at DePaul.
The Blue Demons have won 15 of their last 17 games.
Penny leads the Big East in field goal percentage at .596. Creighton’s Marissa Janning leads the conference in scoring at 18.3 ppg.
Janning and Fujan are the only teammates in Division I women’s basketball this year to each score 38 points in separate games.
Janning was coming off a 38-point effort in a win against Georgetown earlier in the week, but her first half tonight was a rough one: two points on 0-7 shooting from the field.
Her frustration in the first half today was evidenced when her baseline jumper rolled around the rim and out, causing her to clap her hands.
DePaul is ranked first in the Big East in points per game, averaging 84.3, and is only one of eight teams in Division I averaging more than 84.0 ppg. The Bluejays are ranked third in the conference in scoring defense, giving up 62.1 per contest. And for the first 10:00 of this game it appeared Creighton might substantially lower their number, with the score tied at 16. Both teams then went scoreless for the next five minutes.
It was then that DePaul’s supporting cast found its role, helping DePaul to close the half on a 22-5 run.
Four points each from Chanise Jenkins (nine rebounds and a game-high six assists), four points by Jessica January (10 points, six rebounds, and three assists), and two three-pointers by Megan Rogowski (16 points, 4-7 from behind the arc), the last one with four seconds left, helped DePaul to a 38-21 halftime lead, the second lowest first half point output by a DePaul opponent this year.
Rogowski’s 70 three-pointers this year places her in eighth place all-time for a single season at DePaul.
“We did a very good job of buckling down on defense and not allowing second chance shots [during our run],” said Jenkins. “When you play good defense it rubs off on your offense. We also did a good job of passing the ball, being patient, and getting good looks.”
The Blue Demons out rebounded Creighton 47-35, with perhaps the game’s biggest rebound for DePaul coming with 13:10 left to play and DePaul up 49-36.
Kelsey Reynolds grabbed a rebound on the baseline off a Penny miss, passed it to Hrynko, received the ball back in the left corner, and drained a three-pointer.
“There were a lot of great guard rebounds by us today, none better probably than the one by Kelsey Reynolds,” said Bruno.
The Blue Demon guards grabbed 26 rebounds.
“It’s that time of the year when teams are fighting for position within their own conference,” said Bruno, and Creighton, perhaps reminded of their 16 point deficit in the first meeting, fought for its position as well.
The Bluejays (14-10, 8-4 Big East), closed to 58-53 on a three-pointer by Sarah Nelson with 9:23 left.
DePaul then got a huge momentum changer at 5:33 when Centrese McGee stole a pass at half court and drove for a lay up, keying an 8-0 Blue Demon run. McGee finished with four points, six rebounds, and a game-high three steals in her seventeen minutes of play.
The Blue Demons pressed much of the game and that pressure finally took its toll on the Blue Jays, wearing them down defensively as DePaul finished the game scoring numerous lay ups off back door cuts.
Fujan led Creighton with 18 points and Janning finished with 16.
DePaul has a bye week, returning to McGrath-Phillips Arena this Saturday to play Seton Hall at 4:00 CST.
Today’s game was DePaul’s Play4Kay game, dedicated to North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow, who died of breast cancer in 2009. Both of today’s teams wore pink in honor of Yow.
Yow coached at Elon College from 1971-75 and at North Carolina State from 1975-2009. She compiled an all-time coaching record of 737-344. At the time of her death she had the fifth highest win total among active Division I women’s basketball coaches. She guided the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal at the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea. She was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002.
“It’s always a special game to play in the memory of coach Yow,” said Bruno. “She gave so much as a coach to people and in her fight to survive cancer.”