Fresh off a heart-wrenching loss to Syracuse Jan. 15, the women’s basketball team knew that a fast start was required to pick up the pieces and sink Providence Saturday evening.Losing leading scorer Anna Martin to injury early in the first half didn’t help matters, but DePaul (14-5, 3-2) went on an impressive 21-4 run after a slow start and outplayed the Friars (5-12, 0-4) for most of the game, winning 79-67.
The story of the game was the stellar performance of the team in its entirety, coming together and never losing a step despite losing their biggest threat. Brittany Hrynko paced the Blue Demons with a season high 23 points and Jasmine Penny added 18 on 8-of-13 shooting, and DePaul never trailed after falling in an early 4-0 hole. Six players scored at least eight points and DePaul shot 52 percent for the game.
“You just don’t expect Anna Martin to go down in the first five minutes,” head coach Doug Bruno said after the game. “There’s three players on the team with two fouls right away, so we don’t win tonight without what [Hrynko and Penny] did. It was a gutsy performance.”
It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the Blue Demons got the job done. While they never ran away from the Friars, DePaul never really allowed Providence to make a run to get back into the game. Part of the reason was the overall play of Hrynko, who had seven rebounds and seven assists to go along with her 23 points.
“Coach always tells us to put a body on someone. It doesn’t always happen but sometimes, people don’t put a body on me, so I just go get the rebound,” Hrynko said.
Providence defenders looked overmatched all night trying to stay in front of Hrynko, who used a series of fakes and drop steps to fake out the Friars from start to finish. Her shots were high-percentage and her passes were crisp, and she was one of the best players on the floor for the entire game.
Penny was similarly superb, finding open space under the basket without much resistance. But she was wary about getting too excited, due to the rash of injuries that seems to be popping up again for this team.
“We’re going through injuries this year, too,” Penny said. “We’ve got to stay strong and focus on the players who are here.”
Despite the injuries and a somewhat unconvincing second half performance, Bruno admired his team’s ability to buckle down and get the win.
“We knew that we had to play a really strong ball game tonight,” Bruno said. “We really worked the adversity quotient here. We strive to take any adversity that comes our way and turn it into a positive.”
A trip to Cincinnati will continue to test the Blue Demons and provide even more adversity. DePaul plays the Bearcats Jan. 22 as they look to continue their strong play in the Big East.