No. 18 DePaul Edged By No. 5 Texas A&M

CHICAGO- DePaul women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno said in the preseason that games against top five ranked Connecticut, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M were not “break” games, but they were “make” games. And Fri. night versus A&M, his team almost made it.

DePaul’s Jessica January scored a career-high 24 points, but the Blue Demons (0-1) fell to No. 5/5 Texas A&M, 76-68, in front of a near sellout crowd during the first day of play of the Maggie Dixon Classic.

No. 18/18 DePaul lost to A&M 84-65 in the Sweet 16 this past March, and some statistics from that game were eerily similar tonight, but for 38 minutes the Blue Demons looked nothing like they did in the Lincoln Regional.

The Aggies (1-0) were No. 5 in the country last year in three-point field goal defense at 26.3 percent, and DePaul shot 4-20 in the Sweet 16 game; tonight it managed just 5-26 from behind the arc; DePaul had 12 assists in March; it managed just 10 assists tonight. The Blue Demons shot 61.1 percent from the line in March; tonight they shot 67.9 percent.

“Give [Bruno] a lot of credit,” said A&M coach Gary Blair. “He plays a system no matter if he playing Connecticut, Notre Dame, or us.”

But the biggest difference between March and tonight almost proved to be the biggest difference in the score.

January scored six points in the March game; tonight she scored six of DePaul’s first eight points and she had 14 in the first half.

“We realized that playing with four guards and one post we had a mismatch, and I took advantage of that,” said January.

The sophomore started her second collegiate game tonight, and her steal and layup in the game’s first two minutes put A&M on notice that tonight might not be easy as it was for the Aggies in March.

“January had a [heck] of a game,” said Blair. “Thank goodness she got into a little foul trouble because we did not stop her the whole night.”

DePaul’s Brittany Hrynko picked up her second foul at 17:53 of the first half, but finished with nine points in six first half minutes. She finished with 19 points and four rebounds.

The Aggies opened their season against a ranked opponent for the third time in six years. DePaul last opened against a ranked opponent in 2006, losing 107-71 to No. 3/3 Oklahoma. The Blue Demons then won 10 straight. This is the first time since 2006 that DePaul has opened a season 0-1.

Bruno and Blair have a combined career collegiate record of 1,272-604.

“I think Doug should be the next person to go into the women’s college basketball Hall of Fame for what he has meant to the game,” said Blair.

The Aggies finished the first half on a 5-0 run to lead 37-36. A&M was 25-0 last year when leading at the half.

DePaul’s Megan Rogowski has not practiced since July due to an injuries to both feet. She did not score until 9:32 remaining, completing a three-point play. She then hit a three-pointer from the right wing to cut A&M’s lead to 58-56 with just over nine minutes left. She finished with 10 points.

“We we did a good job on Rogowski,” said Blair. “And Hrynko is one of the best we will play against the whole year.”

But this game was decided in the final three minutes, with the score tied at 66 at 2:44. And then turnovers crept in for DePaul.

The Blue Demons had turnovers on two consecutive possessions. Chanise Jenkins and Hrynko were then whistled for two straight offensive fouls as the Aggies led 68-66.

“Some of things we didn’t do that I think we have to do include turnovers, which I did not think were mostly forced,” said Bruno. “We did not not make free throws, and we got out rebounded. With all that happening, we were still in a position to win the game.”

DePaul shot 67.9 percent (19-28) from the line and was out rebounded 50-39.

January missed two free throws with 38 seconds left and the Aggies converted six free throws the rest of the way.

“I think we were finally able to get a hold of ourselves the last couple of minutes, and I think that is how we were able to finish it out,” said A&M’s Courtney Walker (game-high 26 points).

DePaul has lost to the same team twice in eight months but, according to Blair, that is a small measure of what awaits both teams come this March.

“The first game of the year, and you just saw a Sweet 16 game, and I think both of us will be there again.”

DePaul plays Texas Pan-Am at 6:30 in Saturday’s game. The Broncos beat New Mexico, 71-69, in the earlier game.

Notes: Aggie’s starting guard Courtney Williams was suspended for tonight’s game and did not play.


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