Spread Offense Pushes DePaul Women

CHICAGO- With an open practice, a Saturday night scrimmage, and a Coaches Clinic demonstration over the past few weeks, it was time for the DePaul women’s basketball team to show what it had learned. And the answer Tuesday night was plenty.

DePaul placed 13 players in the scoring column and beat Division II St. Xavier, 119-58, in the first exhibition game for either team.

“I thought our players were a lot better tonight than they were in our intra-squad scrimmage,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “We still have a lot of work to do before we are ready for the Maggie Dixon Classic and highly ranked Texas A&M. Our guard play is very good and Texas A&M’s guard play is also very good, so it should be a great game.”

The Blue Demons started Brittany Hrynko, Chanise Jenkins, Megan Podkowa, Jessica January, and Mart’e Grays, but after the first ten minutes it hardly mattered who was on the floor for DePaul.

Hrynko and January scored DePaul’s first 11 points as the Blue Demons jumped out to an 11-5 lead and never trailed again.

That duo switched off guarding the Cougars’ Morgan Stuut, who scored 24 points in last year’s matchup between the two teams. Stuut, a two-time All-America selection, averaged 20.6 ppg last year and ranked in the top 10 in the country in six offensive categories. She was held scoreless in the first half, with her frustration showing on a baseline drive that ended with her throwing a pass in the fourth row of the stands with seven minutes left in the first half. She ended the night with four points and six turnovers.

“I thought we both did a good job [on Stuut), making sure we knew where she was on the floor and communicating with each other,” said Hrynko.

The division of labor for DePaul was equal and potent. Senior Hrynko and junior Jenkins shot a combined 17-19 from the field and had eight assists and six steals between them.

“We are happy with the way we played, but you can never be complacent or satisfied with the way you are playing,” said Jenkins.

Senior Megan Rogowski, bothered by bilateral foot tendonitis, played 10 minutes and scored 11 points. She entered the game at the 14:54 mark and promptly hit a three-pointer. She also hit back-to-back three-pointers from the same spot midway through the second half to give DePaul an 84-32 lead.

St. Xavier then went on a 9-0 run before Lauren Prochaska answered with a three-pointer from the top of the key.

Junior Centrese McGee added four points and four assists in 13 minutes of play.

Junior Megan Podkowa finished with four points and two rebounds in 18 minutes.

“Megan is a really good player and she just has to stay focused for us,” said Bruno. “Her focus was not there for us tonight.”

Sophomore January finished with eight points and five rebounds in 20 minutes of play. Sophomore Brandi Harvey-Carr added 11 points on 5-5 field goal shooting to go along with five rebounds and three blocks in 15 minutes of play.

“January and Jenkins are the two who came back this year with really improved games,” said Bruno. “You are starting to see a much tighter game with Jessica.”

The DePaul freshmen also did some heavy lifting. Prochaska finished with 10 points, six assists, four steals, and one turnover in 17 minutes. Grays had six points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. Ashton Millender scored eight points in nine minutes, including back-to-back three-pointers from the left corner as part of a 19-0 DePaul run in the first half. Meghan Waldron had two points and one rebound in 10 minutes of play. Elri Liebenberg scored four minutes and did not score.

“I thought Prochaska showed what she is capable of doing,” said Bruno. “I think you saw some of the stoic, quiet steady point guard play. She was able to get the ball to any location on the floor.”

“Mart’e is a classic freshman,” said Bruno. “She has a lot of talent, but you can’t inject experience. What she needs is experience.”

“I thought Ashton was really kind of fearless,” said Bruno. “She is a great shooter. She took her first two shots and let them rip. She has to get a little bit more consistent on defense.”

St. Xavier, 27-6 last year and ranked No. 6 in the country in the final Division II regular season poll, was No. 41 in the country in three-point field goal defense at .297 percent. DePaul shot .433 percent from behind the arc tonight and .551 from the floor.

The Blue Demons had 29 assists, 18 steals, and scored 58 points off turnovers. St. Xavier had 25 of its 38 turnovers in the first half. DePaul led 61-23 at the half.

“All of our guards did a great job of sharing the ball tonight,” said Bruno. “When we share, we are really good. I thought we defended good, but I think we can all get a lot better defensively.”

A jumper by ShaKeya Graves gave DePaul a 91-46 lead with 9:40 to play. Brooke Schulte then scored five straight points and two free throws by Grays put DePaul over the century mark with 5:51 to play.

DePaul sophomore Merri Bennett-Swanson did not play due to injury.

Kara Krolicki led St. Xavier with 18 points and was the only player in double figures for the Cougars.

The Blue Demons complete their exhibition schedule at home on Nov. 6th at 6:00 p.m. when they face Robert Morris.

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