CHICAGO - After leading the DePaul women's basketball team to its first ever Big East Conference…
Big East Champs Gouge Georgetown
No. 25 DePaul placed five players in double figures and beat the Hoyas 91-74 Tuesday night at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
As is DePaul coach Doug Bruno's tradition on Senior Night, the seniors start the game. Seniors Kelsey Reynolds (two points) and Jasmine Penny (three points) helped stake DePaul to an early 7-0 lead.
The Blue Demons were the pre-season pick to win the Big East, but early in the season they sat at 3-2 in the conference and lost their No. 25 AP ranking. They then won 13 of their next 14 games, culminating in the win tonight. And after beating Villanova and St. John's, DePaul (24-6, 15-3) re-entered the poll this week.
"We felt a little pressure [with the pre-season ranking] at first, but we did not want to over think it," said DePaul guard Megan Rogowski. "We played it one game at a time and we focused on our team."
Rogowski felt little pressure tonight, scoring a game-high 21 points on 8-12 field goal shooting including 5-8 from behind the arc. Her 95 three-pointers this year leads the Big East and it sets a new DePaul single season record.
The Blue Demons held a 29-27 lead with 5:35 left in the first half before a three-pointer from Reynolds keyed an 18-9 run to finish the half and give DePaul a 47-36 halftime lead.
Penny picked up her second foul early in the game, playing just seven minutes in that half. She finished the game with 17 points including 9-12 from the free throw line. She finishes the regular season leading the Big East in field goal percentage and among the top five in DePaul history for single season field goal percentage.
Penny was the first Blue Demon to cut down a portion of the net after the game. Each senior and junior sliced off a piece to keep. She spoke about what it means to the team to win the regular season title.
"That was one of our big goals that we set at the beginning of the season, and I am proud to see my team work so hard throughout the year and to be able to accomplish something so big."
Penny is one of three active Big East players with more than 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career.
Georgetown (10-20, 4-14) closed to 66-60 on a three-pointer by Katie McCormick with 10:20 left to play. Pre-season Conference Player of the Year pick Brittany Hrynko then answered for DePaul.
Hrynko assisted on a Reynolds' lay up, scored on a lay up, and assisted on a three-pointer by Megan Podkowa (13 points and seven rebounds) to put DePaul up 75-62 at 6:15. Hrynko had a game-high 10 assists and a game-high seven steals. She leads the Big East in both categories. Her 170 assists is No. 4 all-time at DePaul for a single season.
A lay up by the Hoyas' Natalie Butler (15 points and 13 rebounds) was countered by a Penny lay up and two jumpers by Jessica January (13 points and three assists) as DePaul opened up its biggest lead of the game at 84-65.
Georgetown shot a season-best 59.3 percent from the field, but DePaul got up 16 more shots and received 49 bench points. The Hoyas lead the Big East in field goal percentage defense at 37.4 percent, but the Blue Demons eclipsed that with their 41.4 percent. DePaul is 22-3 this year when shooting 40 percent or better from the field.
Chanise Jenkins added 13 points and five assists for DePaul.
Hrynko has 170 assists this year and Jenkins has 158. They are the only guard tandem among the seven major conferences to each have more than 150 assists.
The Blue Demons' 602 assists this year is No. 3 all-time. Its 270 three-pointers this year breaks the DePaul single season record previously held by the 2010 team.
DePaul won its last regular season conference title in 2004 as a member of Conference USA. The Blue Demons finished that year 13-1 in the conference, 26-5 overall, and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Penny, Reynolds, and fellow senior Kelsey Smith were removed late in the game to rousing applause and a standing ovation from the crowd of 2,811.
A video montage of each players' highlights at DePaul was shown before the cutting of the nets and the presentation of the Big East trophy.
But as joyous as the moments tonight were for the team, Bruno, named the ESPNW Big East Coach of the Year this week, realizes that the journey is essentially beginning.
"We have to drive it forward now instead of being complacent with what has already been achieved. This has got to be the floor and not the ceiling. We have to continue to focus on getting better with the things we have been doing."
DePaul will continue that focus as the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament. The Blue Demons will play the winner of the Xavier/Georgetown match up this Sunday at 6:00 CST at Allstate Arena.
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