March 11, 2014
DePaul 65, St. John's 57
ROSEMONT, Ill. – Brittany Hrynko scored 15 points and Megan Rogowski added 14 as DePaul capped an historic BIG EAST season with a 65-57 championship game victory over St. John’s on Tuesday at Allstate Arena.
It was the Blue Demons’ first BIG EAST Tournament title since joining the league in 2005-06 and secured an automatic NCAA tournament berth. DePaul (27-6) also captured the BIG EAST regular-season championship and has now won seven straight.
The Blue Demons never trailed in the second half after taking a 30-29 lead just before halftime.
Aliyyah Handford scored 13 points and Briana Brown added 12 for the second seed Red Storm (22-10), who saw a three-game winning streak snapped in their first championship game appearance since 1988.
Megan Podkowa had 12 points and Jasmine Penny added 11 for the host and top seed DePaul, ranked 23rd in this week’s Associated Press poll and 22nd by USA Today.
DePaul opened an early 15-9 lead, but Handford scored five points in a 9-2 surge that gave the Red Storm their first edge at 18-17 on her layup with 8:52 showing.
Hrynko replied 25 seconds later with a 3 pointer for a short-lived 20-18 Blue Demon lead. Three players combined on seven unanswered points to put St. John’s up 25-22 with 4:11 showing.
The lead changed hand twice more before DePaul took a 30-29 lead into the half after Megan Rogowski’s layup with 37 seconds showing.
DePaul led by seven points through the mid-stages of the second half including a 49-42 edge at the 9:57 mark on Rogowski’s layup off an in-bound feed.
The Red Storm closed the gap to four at 57-53 on Brown’s 3 pointer with 2:24 showing. Rogowski followed with two free throws and Penny banked a shot with 1:54 left for a 60-53 lead.
Brown’s recovery of a loose ball for a layup cut the DePaul lead to 60-55 with 45 seconds to play, but Chanise Jenkins hit a pair of free throws two seconds later to restore a seven-point lead.
The finale capped a competitive BIG EAST season and Tournament, which was held for the first time in the Chicago area.
The championship contenders split a pair previous meetings as DePaul went 15-3 on the way to a regular season conference title while runner up St. John’s was 13-5.
In Monday’s semifinals, St. John’s rallied in the second half to force one overtime then a second before beating Creighton. DePaul held off a late Marquette comeback and didn’t secure its win until hitting six free throws in the final minute.
Only two of eight tournament games had winning margins of more than 10 points.
NCAA women’s tournament selections will be announced on Monday, March 17.
BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Player
Jasmine Penny, DePaul
BIG EAST All-Tournament Team
Aliyyah Handford, St. John’s
Brittany Hrynko, DePaul
Sarah Nelson, Creighton
Katherine Plouffe, Marquette
Ka-Deidre Simmons, Seton Hall