Megan Podkowa scored a career-high 24 points and No. 18/20 DePaul forced 34 turnovers to beat South Dakota State 84-62.
DePaul (4-1) starting point guard Chanise Jenkins missed the game with an ankle injury sustained Tuesday night against Bradley, but the Blue Demons did not miss a beat, forcing five turnovers in the first two minutes.
"Chanise is an important and good player on this basketball team, but we had to tighten up our rotation in a hurry," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno.
Centrese McGee got her first start at DePaul in place of Jenkins, and she scored six points, grabbed five rebounds, and added three steals.
"The reason why I wanted to start Centrese is that she has been giving us great energy off the bench," said Bruno.
McGee's starting energy was most evident with her steal at halfcourt at 14:30 of the second half and subsequent layup followed by a steal on the ensuing inbounds pass and converting a potential three-point play. The free throw was converted but was waved off due to a lane violation.
Bruno compared South Dakota State earlier in the week to perennial mid-major powers Marist and Wisconsin Green-Bay. South Dakota State finished 26-10 (13-1 Summit League) last year. It has won 20+ games in seven of the last eight seasons, and it finished 32-3 in 2008.
Podkowa scored her team's first eight points and finished with 12 first half points. She added six rebounds, a career-high five blocks, and six steals for the game.
"The guards did a really good job of getting me the ball inside, and I think I took higher percentage shots," said Podkowa.
The Jackrabbits (1-2) had their home win streak of 22 (fourth longest in the nation) snapped Tuesday night versus Creighton. The Bluejays sank a South Dakota State opponent record 13 three-pointers in that game.
DePaul shot just 1-10 from behind the arc in the first half, relying instead on points in the paint to go up 22-12 midway through the first half. The Blue Demons had 28 points in the paint in the first half and 42 for the game.
And with McGee moved to a starting role, the bench energy she provided was filled in tonight by Brooke Schulte, who scored nine points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
The Jackrabbits went on a 6-0 run at 12:49 of the second half to close to 57-44 before DePaul exploded with a 25-8 run over the next seven minutes.
That run included a 15-footer by Podkowa, consecutive three-pointers by Podkowa and Brittany Hrynko (16 points and a team-high five assists), and a three-pointer by Jessica January (11 points and four assists).
The Jackrabbits had been shooting 41.2 percent from behind the arc this year, but they were held to 31.3 percent (5-16) tonight.
Bruno said that with four to five guards on the floor, his team's lack of size almost forces DePaul to play some kind of different way.
And tonight, different was good.
DePaul forced 19 turnovers in the first half and it held the Jackrabbits’ leading scorer, Mariah Clarin, who scored a career-high 21 points against Creighton, to 10 points. South Dakota State had four players averaging double figure scoring, but had just two tonight. Megan Waytashek led South Dakota State with a game-high 26 points, and she went over the 1,000 point career mark in the first half.
Notes: this was the first meeting between the two teams… in addition to Jenkins, ShaKeya Graves, Merri Bennett-Swanson, Meghan Waldron, and Elri Liebenberg did not dress for DePaul... South Dakota State is now 3-15 versus ranked teams since 2004... DePaul opponents are now averaging 33 turnovers per game.
DePaul's Pressure, Podkowa, Cook SDSU
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