DePaul Women Win Duel, Jenkins named MVP

LAS VEGAS- Chanise Jenkins and the rest of the DePaul women's basketball team wanted to ride a roller coaster while in Las Vegas. They never got that opportunity, and the rest of their stay was without fluctuation- as in win, win, and win.

DePaul captured the Gray bracket division of the Duel in the Desert Tournament, beating Louisiana Monroe 79-57 Saturday afternoon at Cox Pavilion. Brittany Hrynko and Jenkins were named to the All-Tournament team, with Jenkins being awarded MVP.

Jenkins' line for the three-day tournament was 39 points, 15 rebounds, 15 assists, and four steals. Her 3.44 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 13th in DI and third in the Big East.

DePaul played three games in three day in the tournament, and four games in six days this past week.

"It was little overwhelming [playing that much in that short of time], but we just had to stay focused and get our legs back," said Jenkins. "We played three good opponents, so it was important for us to come out ready to play."

The Blue Demons fell behind 6-4 early, but a 7-0 run put them ahead for good at 11-6 with 15:39 left. Hrynko picked up her second foul at 13:32.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno could be heard exhorting in the first half for his team to "make the simple pass," and Centrese McGee obliged, finding Kelsey Reynolds on a baseline jumper after a missed free throw and assisting on another Reynolds' jumper to push the lead to 35-10 at 5:38.

Reynolds finished with 10 points and three assists. McGee added five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

DePaul has averaged 84 points per game this year, but it was its first half defense that put this game away.

The Blue Demons forced 17 turnovers, scored 20 points off those turnovers, had seven steals, and held the Warhawks to 28 percent shooting from the field in the opening half.

The 32 forced turnovers for the game by DePaul is a season-high. The Warhawks had been averaging 18.8 turnovers this year.

"We did a really good job of coming out when the game started," said Bruno. "I was really proud of the focus that we had and we did a good job of getting up 30 [points] in the first half."

The Warhawks finished the first half on an 8-0 run to be down 43-19 at the break, the least amount of points DePaul has given up in a first half this year.

The last time DePaul (8-3) was in this tournament was 2009. They won the tournament and the Blue Demons' Sam Quigley was named MVP. This was the first-ever meeting between DePaul and Louisiana-Monroe.

Jenkins' three-point play and Jasmine Penny's (game-high 16 points) three-pointer launched DePaul on an 8-0 run and a 54-21 lead with 16:03 remaining.

The Warhawks' 10-0 run closed the gap to 55-35 with 12:38. Sharnice Brooks led Louisiana-Monroe (4-8) with 11 points.

A three-pointer by DePaul's Jessica January upped the Blue Demons' lead to 71-50 with just over two minutes to play.

Reynolds and January were part of 34 DePaul bench points. January scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds in 25 minutes of play.

"I thought Jessica was really good off the bench in all three games, and Kelsey Reynolds has been good off the bench all year long," said Bruno. "They both gave us great energy and I am really proud of both of them."

In this tournament DePaul got a double-double from Megan Podkowa, a career-high in assists from Hrynko, a career-high in points from Jenkins, double figure scoring from Penny and Megan Rogowski, and great play off its bench. To say that winning its bracket was anything less than a team effort would be illusory. The MVP and her feelings about winning her award echo that belief.

"It's a great feeling, but it's all because of my teammates."

DePaul travels to Bradley on December 29th and returns home on January 1st to open Big East play against Xavier.

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