With DePaul’s struggles in closing out close games, their game at Creighton was looking like it would take the same path. After cutting the deficit closer and closer in the second half, the Jays got to within two with 44 seconds to play and looked to get the final push needed to take the lead that had eluded them all second half.
DePaul, however, held strong and, with a big rebound from senior guard Brittany Hrynko, watched as a desperation shot from Creighton hit the rim at the buzzer and emerged victorious 78-76.
The win gave DePaul (21-7, 13-3) the season sweep over Creighton (15-11, 8-7) and also ended the Jays’ six-game winning streak. DePaul also kept pace at the top of the Big East conference as they held on to a tie for first place in the conference with Seton Hall.
Hrynko provided the offensive output for DePaul as she put up 33 points and five rebounds, while junior forward Megan Podkowa added 15 points and nine rebounds. For Creighton, sophomore guard MC McGrory and senior forward Alexis Akin-Otiko each had 16 points.
Creighton took the lead to start and held the advantage at home and went out in front 28-22 with 6:10 to go in the first half. From there, however, DePaul went on a 19-6 run to close out the half with Hrynko getting the last 16 points all by herself. The Blue Demons led 41-34 at the half with Hrynko already at 20 points.
The Blue Demons kept their lead as the second half started, but the lead was precarious. Going between ranges of ten to four-point deficits, Creighton was resilient in not letting the Blue Demons take control of the game.
DePaul continued their run in the second half, holding a ten-point lead with just over six minutes to play but Creighton started to make their way back into the game. They chipped away as the minutes wore down but could not make the final push to get back into the lead. With 44 seconds to go, Creighton got as close as they were going to get when Akin-Otiko completed a three-point play to get the Jays to within two points.
With the threat of another close loss looming, Hrynko came up big once again. On DePaul’s next possession, sophomore guard Jessica January put up an open three with 11 seconds to go but missed. Hrynko was there to grab the offensive board and to get the ball to January while taking time off the clock.
January was fouled and went to the line with five seconds to go with a chance for a one-and-one but missed the front end, giving the Jays a chance for a last-ditch shot at the buzzer. It went off the rim and DePaul held on for the 78-76 victory. It was DePaul’s first win of the season with a margin of victory of less than ten points after losing five of their seven losses by the same margin.
Following their 103-66 win against Providence in their final road game of the year Sunday, DePaul concludes their regular season on March 1 at home against Marquette before going to the Big East tournament March 7-10 at Allstate Arena.