EVANSTON, Ill. -- Keisha Hampton would not allow DePaul to become the second straight ranked team to lose to Northwestern.
Hampton scored 20 of her career-high 32 points in the second half to break open a close game, and DePaul (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) beat Northwestern 88-72 on Sunday in the Third Annual Autism Awareness game.
"I didn't even know it was a career high," Hampton said. "I'm not too worried about a career high. It was a great win for our team."
"She's a big-time player. A unanimous All-Big East player," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "I think she showed why today. Hits some great shots. Big shots down the stretch in the second half."
Anna Martin added 21 for DePaul, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Freshman Brittany Hrynko also made 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points. Jasmine Penny had 11 points.
"Big time conference. It's the Big Ten and it's a road game," Bruno said about Northwestern, which defeated LSU (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) 44-43 on Nov. 22.
Dannielle Diamant scored 19 points, 15 in the first half for Northwestern, making all seven of her free throws. Morgan Jones had 17 and Brittany Orban 16 for the Wildcats.
DePaul made 18 of 19 free throws, while Northwestern was 22 for 24.
Northwestern (4-1) rallied from an eight point deficit to it at 62 with 8:30 left on two free throws by Karly Roser. DePaul (5-1) then went on an 8-2 run, as Hampton capped the surge with a 3-pointer.
"Keisha knocked down a couple that were very, very important," Bruno said.
Northwestern (4-1) battled back to get to within 74-70 with 3:34 remaining on two free throws by Danielle Diamant, but the Blue Demons' Jasmine Penny scored five and Hampton had four as DePaul expanded its lead to 83-70.
"It was a tough basketball game. A lot tougher than the score indicates," Bruno said.
Hampton finished the game 9 for 23 from the field, including two 3-pointers. Hampton was 12-12 from the free throw line with five rebounds and three assists. Martin added four assists.
Both teams got off to slow starts, with DePaul making only two of its first nine shots from the field, while Northwestern committed four turnovers. Northwestern had its biggest lead of the game at 13-9, when Diamant converted a three-point play followed by a 3-pointer.
DePaul turned things around finishing 7 of 13 for 3-pointers in the first half, as the Blue Demons built a 41-37 lead at the intermission.
DePaul was 12 for 25 from 3-point range, while Northwestern was just 4 for 17.
"We're a good shooting basketball team and Northwestern is a good defensive team," Bruno said.
The Wildcats entered the game allowing 55.5 points per game.