No. 18/18 DePaul put eight players in double figures, made 16 three-pointers, and shot .576 percent from the field to beat Robert Morris, 137-76, in the first game between the two teams since at least 2000.
The Eagles, 17-11 last year, are receiving votes in the NAIA Division I preseason coaches poll, took its only lead of the game at 6-5 lead before two three-pointers by Megan Rogowski (13 points) and a three-pointer by Jessica January (12 points, four assists, and three steals) keyed a 31-8 DePaul run and a 34-14 lead.
DePaul’s Brittany Hrynko scored 18 points and had a game-high eight assists. Chanise Jenkins added 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Megan Podkowa bounced back from a sub-par performance in DePaul’s first exhibition game to score 15 points and grab 11 rebounds.
Hrynko and Jenkins made back-to-back three pointers to open the second half as DePaul started the half on a 20-8 run to essentially end the game. DePaul held its biggest lead of 70 points with 6:49 left to play.
But the biggest numbers tonight, and in the future, may have come from post players sophomore Brandi Harvey-Carr and freshman Mart’e Grays.
Harvey-Carr scored seven points and grabbed four of her nine rebounds in the first half. She had rebound and put back to go with two straight steals with just under six minutes to play in the first half. She did not pick up her first foul until the 14:53 mark of the second half. Her final line included 5-9 from the field and two blocked shots.
“Brandi showed flashes tonight,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “She has to really pull it together. She made some good positive basketball plays, and there were some moments where she not even guarding at all. The Robert Morris players wear the same uniform colors as the Texas A&M players, but the Robert Morris post players probably come up to the numbers of the A&M post players, so that is not going to cut it at all next week. She has to be more consistent, more competitive, and we’ll see how she grows. She has to get better real fast.”
Grays scored a game-high 22 points, scoring from the post and the perimeter, on 9-11 shooting from the field in 30 minutes of play.
“I thought Mart’e kind of grew in front of our eyes tonight,” said Bruno. “She is a really talented player, and during her first two or three minutes tonight she was kind of lost. And then she started to get active. Once she put herself in an active mode she started getting some rebounds she started making her presence felt with her quickness and her athleticism.”
And as the clock to this game was winding down, another clock was also winding down: the countdown to the showdown with No. 5/5 Texas A&M next Friday in the Maggie Dixon Classic.
Bruno has talked a lot this preseason about the necessity for DePaul to establish and inside game, and tonight was a start to that goal. But if the Blue Demons are going to beat the Aggies, it can’t stop there.
Texas A&M graduated 6’5” Karla Gilbert from last year’s 27-9 team, which beat DePaul, 84-65, in last year’s Sweet 16 match up. The Aggies this year have four starters back and field a team which includes 6’1” senior Achiri Ade, 6’0” senior Tavarsha Scott-Williams, 6’1” All-America selection Courtney Williams, 6’7” junior Rachel Mitchell, 6’3” sophomore Jada Terry, and 6’5” freshman Khaalia Hillsman.
DePaul forward Jasmine Penny scored a team-high 24 points in last year’s match up and Podkowa added 11 points and nine rebounds. The Blue Demons will need performances from Harvey-Carr and Grays next week like they had tonight to replace Penny’s inside presence and to augment what Podkowa can do inside.
It may be true that time is of the essence, but for DePaul next Friday post play may have to substitute.
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