DePaul Women Tune Up in Exhibition Finale
By Jim Niendorff
CHICAGO- The grinding of wheels and oiling of gears for the DePaul women's basketball continued Saturday night at McGrath-Phillips Arena as the team completed its exhibition schedule.
Kelsey Reynolds scored a game-high 21 points and DePaul placed five players in double figures as the No. 25/NR Blue Demons beat Illinois Wesleyan 105-68.
"I think our team demonstrated that it can get a lot better in a couple of days," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. "I thought we played a lot better basketball today than we did Tuesday [against St. Xavier.]. We did not have soft practices on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday."
And with the regular season less than one week away, getting better both on the floor and in the head is the theme of the day.
"It is that time of the year where [the players] have got to be able to understand that you need to get better quickly, but you have to get focused," said Bruno. "Our Maggie Dixon Classic coming up [this weekend] is a Big East-level tournament."
The Classic, at McGrath-Phillips Arena, features Dayton against Mississippi Valley State this Friday at 3:00 p.m CST and DePaul against Nicholls State at 5:30 in the second game. The championship game is on Saturday at 7:00.
DePaul had no problem focusing tonight, with 32 assists on 40 baskets.
"We never have a goal to lead the nation in scoring, but we always have the goal to lead the nation in assists," Bruno said.
Nine of those forty baskets were made by Reynolds, who continued her hot preseason shooting. The junior was 9-13 from the field. .
"This week in practice we really emphasized getting out in the passing lanes, so I tried to carry that over to the game," said Reynolds. "We have a shooting workout [in the off season] that we do three times per week, so I tried to do that as much as possible, and I think that that has really helped me so far this year."
Her back-to back three pointers midway through the second half put DePaul up 76-34.
Reynolds' four steals tied her for a team-high.
"Kelsey Reynolds made shots tonight, but she also did a lot of things between the touches that are necessary for her to put herself on the floor." said Bruno. "It was her being in passing lanes and stirring things up defensively that was enjoyable to coach tonight."
The sight lines for fans at McGrath-Phillips Arena are clean with no obstructions. The sight lines for the DePaul coaches tonight were mixed.
Chanise Jenkins returned to the court after missing almost one year with a foot injury, but Anna Martin missed her second straight game due to a sprained ankle.
Jenkins entered the game at 13:58 of the first half and contributed a fast break assist and a give and go with Megan Podkowa to put DePaul up 28-6. Jenkins scored 7 points, had a team-high six assists and four steals in 19 minutes of play.
"It felt great [to be out there tonight]," said Jenkins. "I knew that my teammates were there for me, and Kelsey had a great defensive effort tonight."
Jenkins led a line up of herself, Brittany Hrynko, and freshmen Brooke Schulte, Podkowa and Brandi-Harvey Carr when she entered the game. That quintet left the floor at the 7:45 mark, having advanced DePaul's lead to 41-17.
Schulte scored nine points on three three-pointers and had three assists in 18 minutes of play.
Podkowa added six points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Harvey-Carr had 13 points and four rebounds in her 18 minutes of play.
In the past two years that DePaul and the Titans have played, the results were diffuse. In 2010 the Blue Demons shot 0-22 from three-point range in a 72-57 win. Last year, DePaul has sixteen steals and forced 31 turnovers in a 92-59 win.
This year was a continuation of last year as Hrynko's two three-pointers gave DePaul a 10-0 lead two minutes into the contest. The Blue Demons forced 32 turnovers.
The Titans won the NCAA Division III national championship last year and their coach, Mia Smith, was named the DIII Coach of the year. Smith is also a cancer survivor.
"[Coach Smith] has has been very courageous and valiant to all of us coaches in her fight, and then to be able to win a national championship last year, that is something pretty impressive," said Bruno.
- DePaul is now 121-5 in games when scoring 80 points or more.
- The Blue Demons have now made a three-pointer in 94 consecutive games.
Melvin Leads DePaul Past Lewis
By Steve Newhouse
Junior forward Cleveland Melvin led the Blue Demons to a 91-74 exhibition romp past the Division II Lewis Flyers on Saturday night.
Melvin picked up a double-double, scoring 25 points on 11 of 18 from the floor and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The Blue Demons jumped out of the gate quickly to a 15 point lead just six and a half minutes into the contest and dominated the Flyers on the boards.
"I thought we came out ready to play," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "We jumped on them pretty early and controlled the basketball game."
While Melvin scored 25, he shot three of nine from the free throw line.
"I thought Cleve struggled, but he hung in there," Purnell said. "Obviously if he makes free throws, we score a lot more points. He's got to put in more free throw practice because he's going to get fouled a lot. That's just the way it's going to be."
The Blue Demons had five players finish in double-figures.
Donnavan Kirk also pulled down a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"It's good to see (Donnavan) get off to a good start, knock down a couple shots, rebounding there," said Purnell. "He's got to get a little more tougher there with the ball. Hopefully by the time that Big East time rolls around, he's a real factor for us."
Sophomore Jamee Crockett scored 14 points and dished out a team-high six assists.
Junior guard Brandon Young contributed with 10 points while sophomore Charles McKinney came off the bench to score 10 points.
It was a tale of two halves where the Blue Demons played well defensively in the first half, but then in the second half Lewis started to catch fire.
The Blue Demons had led by as many as 32 points with 16:11 to play in the second half. Then
Batavia's David Bryant and former Farragut guard Gabe Williams came off the bench in the second half to knock down five trifectas apiece for the Flyers.
"They make you pay for what you don't do well," said Purnell. "We let up defensively in the second half and they make you pay."
"We have to continue to pressure the ball, because we can't let that happen, because team's can really come back like that," Melvin said of the second half defense.
"I think we all kind of just sat back and stopped communicating," said Kirk. "I'm in the back and I see pretty much everything, so I've got to let those guys know where the screen is coming from. We've got to be better on the ball defenders as well, and have better help defense, and have more communication. That's what happens when you get tired, you start to let back, you feel like you've got a good lead, you kind of start to sit back a little bit and that's what we did. We've got to work on that and will get better over time."
The Blue Demons will return to Lincoln Park on Friday night to open their season against UC-Riverside.
DePaul Sweeps Exhibition Doubleheader
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