Dayton Tops DePaul in Maggie Dixon Final

CHICAGO- The Maggie Dixon Classic women's basketball tournament at McGrath-Phillips Arena featuring DePaul, Dayton, Mississippi Valley State, and Nicholls State this Friday and Saturday involved basketball games, but it also involved a tribute and a remembrance.

The tournament, named after the former DePaul assistant basketball coach and Army head coach, is played in Chicago, at Madison Square Garden, and at Dixon's alma mater, the University of San Diego.

Dixon served as an assistant coach at DePaul from 2001-2005. While there, she was responsible for recruiting as well as developing the team's post players. One product of her tutelage was DePaul's three-time All-America, Khara Smith.

She went from DePaul to being the women's basketball head coach at Army in 2006, with the Black Knights beating Holy Cross by one point in the Patriot League championship in her first season there, giving Army its first NCAA Tournament berth.

Dixon died on April 6, 2006 from a cardiac-related condition. She is one of the few civilians buried at West Point.

"I think of Maggie and her family every day," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. "To quote Keats, 'It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved'".

"As coaches we are trying to do a lot of things at the same time, so your coaching staff is a family, and that is impossible to explain until you [coach]. If you can have people that are just good people in the beautiful, pure sense of the word, that is what Maggie was."

"I never got a chance to meet Maggie, but from the impression she left at DePaul she was a phenomenal woman," said DePaul's Anna Martin. "It is always an honor [to play in the Classic], and I think it's a great way to start our season."

Bruno said after his team's exhibition win against St. Xavier that he would be able to measure his team's improvement this year after the Maggie Dixon Classic. Saturday night's championship game showed that more improvement is needed.

Dayton's Amber Deane scored 27 points and was named the Classic's Most Valuable Player, and the Flyers (2-0) placed four players in double figures to beat No. 25 /NR DePaul 92-80 at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

This was the most points given up by DePaul (1-1) since a 95-62 loss to Connecticut on February 10, 2010.

"In the first half we did not guard and we did not rebound," said Bruno. "Defensively we were terrible, and we were a bad rebounding team tonight."

The Flyers shot 51.4 percent from the field for the game. Dayton did not shoot over 50 percent from the field in a single game last year.

Runs of 13-2 and 9-0 in the first half gave Dayton a 48-25 halftime lead. The Flyers out rebounded DePaul 28-13 and scored 26 points in the paint in the first half.

One of Bruno's favorite saying is "every game has a life of its own." And this one certainly had that.

Dayton, 23-7 last year and an NCAA Tournament qualifier for the past three years, began the second half with two three-pointers from Olivia Applewhite to stretch its lead to 54-37. The Flyers upped their lead to 62-41, their largest lead of the game, with 16:38 left to play.

A three-pointer by Anna Martin (13 points and nine assists) trimmed the lead to 62-50 at 14:51, but Deane's jumper put Dayton up 71-53 with 10:35 left.

A three-pointer by Brittany Hrynko narrowed the lead to 77-66 and the DePaul fans, along with Bruno, started to rustle.

"I was yelling at them on the bench, 'we are not giving up. You don't know me, we are not just going to quit here,'" said Bruno.

And what had been a miserable thirty three minutes for DePaul turned into what seemed to be just enough time to win the Classic for the fourth year in a row.

A jumper by Jasmine Penny (team-high 20 points) and a three-pointer from the top of the key by Chanise Jenkins (eight points, eight boards, and five assists) capped a 26-9 DePaul run and cut Dayton's lead to 86-79 with 2:18 to play.

A three-point play by Deane with under one minute left put the game out of reach for DePaul.

"I don't think our team was ready yet to beat a team that is as good as Dayton," said Bruno.

Hrynko (14 points and five assists) and Katherine Harry (18 points and 13 rebounds) were named to the All-Tournament team.

Nicholls State beat Mississippi Valley State 60-57 in consolation game.

DePaul plays Howard this Saturday at McGrath-Phillips Arena at 7:00 CST.

Game notes:

- Dayton now leads the series 10-7. DePaul had won the the last three meetings.

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