With 16 minutes left in the first half, DePaul's Brittany Hrynko racked up her second personal foul in just nine seconds. Blue Demon head coach Doug Bruno smartly put her on the bench, and it gave Marquette a window to attack DePaul. With DePaul's star in early foul trouble, it was the chance for Marquette to take control of the game and force Bruno's hand, especially since the Golden Eagles held a two point lead at the time.
Instead, what happened was DePaul went on a 10-2 run to take a six point lead, and Bruno felt comfortable putting Hrynko back in the game. From there, Marquette got into massive foul trouble with four different Golden Eagles accumulating three personal fouls by the end of the half, and the Blue Demon lead was up to 17 at the break.
An 8-0 run midway through the second half cut the lead to just 11, but DePaul managed to re-establish control of the game and push the lead back to 17. That boost by DePaul was all they needed to end up with the win. Yes, a Brooklyn Pumroy three pointer cut the lead to just six points with 62 seconds remaining, but at that point, Marquette barely had the warm bodies available to commit the fouls that they needed to try to extend the game as four players fouled out by the end of the game. Ashley Santos had a chance to cut the lead to four, but missed the three pointer and then was whistled for an intentional foul for diving after Chanise Jenkins. Jenkins split the free throws, and the intentional foul gave the ball back to the Blue Demons and forced another Marquette foul, and that was that.
#1 seeded DePaul advanced to today's Big East championship game against #2 seeded St. John's. The Red Storm advanced to the title game with a 68-63 double overtime victory over Creighton in the first of the two semifinal games. DePaul and St. John's will face off for the Big East's automatic bid on Tuesday night at
Abbie Willenborg Player of the Game: Even with foul trouble all game long, Katherine Plouffe finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds, with six of those boards coming on the offensive end. The senior star also had three assists and three steals. Anything that Plouffe accomplished out of the post is impressive, as DePaul spent a lot of the game double teaming her, and even triple teaming her.
Clare Barnard Undersung Eagle of the Game: If you've been paying attention all year, it doesn't make sense that Katie Young would get this one. But watch this: Not only did Young have a team high 25 points along with seven rebounds, two steals and an assist, she also had ZERO fouls and ZERO turnovers. With Marquette committing 30 fouls and 17 turnovers, this effort from Young must be highlighted, even though it would largely go past unnoticed.
Up Next: Everyone pays attention to the men's basketball NCAA tournament, so it's not hard to identify the cut line for at large teams there. Less attention is paid to the women's tournament, so it's hard to make solid calls. But both ESPN and College Sports Madness, the only two women's bracket predictions I can find, don't have Marquette anywhere near the field. As of yesterday, Marquette's RPI was 81, so it seems unlikely that the Golden Eagles can sneak an at large bid, but we will wait until Selection Monday on March 17 to see what happens.