Women’s basketball routs St. Xavier 91-59 in exhibition opener

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Shaking off the cobwebs, the DePaul women’s basketball team took to the floor against St. Xavier in their first exhibition game of the 2012-13 season Tuesday night. Led by Brittany Hrynko, who finished with 19 points and 14 assists, the Blue Demons defeated the Cougars 91-59 at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

“It was a classic first basketball game — we did a lot of good things and we did some things that weren’t so good,” said head coach Doug Bruno. “That’s why you play exhibition games this time of the year. I think we were really focused defensively, on our energy and our rebounding.”

Sharing the basketball was another high point for the Blue Demons, racking up 26 total assists that produced many baskets from in close. Hrynko was especially aggressive against a relatively small Cougar defense, attacking the basket and either dumping off to Demon frontcourt players Jasmine Penny and Katherine Harry for short post shots or kicking out to the perimeter to move the defense.

“Like coach always tells me in practice, I used my eyes and made the simple passes,” said Hrynko. “I just pushed the ball more, took my time and hit the open woman.”

Hrynko did struggle somewhat offensively, shooting just 5-14 from the field, so she resorted to distributing the basketball, despite eight turnovers.

Penny, Kelsey Reynolds and Megan Rogowski each contributed effectively on offense, all scoring 16 points apiece. After back to back turnovers to start the game, the Blue Demons took off, opening up a 14-0 run over three and a half minutes, taking a 21-5 run.

The Blue Demons’ early lead allowed Bruno to give his freshmen — Brooke Schulte, Megan Podkowa and Brandi Harvey-Carr — some run.

“There were some good spots, some good moments, and then some freshmen-esque moments,” Bruno said of his first-year players. “There’s certain things you just can’t learn in practice, you have to just learn them through games.”

Though Schulte (1-9) and Harvey-Carr (2-7) stumbled on offense, their efforts on the defensive end were effective, stifling the Cougars and contributing to holding the opposition to just 35.9 percent shooting.

Podkowa had nice moments herself, her eight points punctuated by a straight-away three-pointer in the midst of a Blue Demon 11-2 run to give them a 70-39 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

“It’s important to let them feel what it’s like to be on a college floor and adjust to the speed of the game,” said Bruno. “To start the game, Brandi was very much out of sorts early, and then at the end of the game she started to show some of the dominance and strength that she possesses physically.”

Bruno also complimented Schulte and Podkowa’s ability to settle down as the game went along, adjusting to the speed of the game, which the freshmen have imparted to their head coach has been the most difficult aspect of the game to which to adjust.

“Playing quickly requires a lot of understanding of tempo,” said Bruno. “That’s just something we have to learn over time. There’s just a lot of room for growth.”

Harry, though only scoring eight points (3-6 shooting), grabbed 13 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass. The 6-3 senior was regardless unsatisfied with her performance.

“I wasn’t happy with the way I played — I was expecting to come in and be more dominant in the paint than I was, and that’s a credit to the players on St. Xavier,” said Harry. “You have to take each game and approach it the same way, and never take an opponent for granted.”

The Blue Demons’ second and final exhibition game is against Illinois Wesleyan Saturday, Nov. 3. Tip-off is at 5 p.m.

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Notes:

Anna Martin and Chanise Jenkins did not play due to injury.