Jessica January scored a game-high 16 points and DePaul placed four players in double figures as the No. 2 seed Blue Demons beat No. 7 seed Xavier 87-53 in Big East quarterfinal play Sunday night at Allstate Arena.
“It is all about focus at this time of the year, and I was really proud of our players focus and readiness to play,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “It is important that your players understand the focus of the moment.”
That focus was fuzzy early on for both teams, with DePaul leading 5-3 a little over three minutes into the game. Xavier had not scored in the last 2:57, DePaul shot 1-6, and the teams shot a combined 4-11 from the field in those opening minutes.
“We did start out a little slow, but our defense picked up and our energy translated to our offense,” said January.
DePaul’s Brittany Hrynko’s first shot of the game, a made 3-pointer at 15:15, sparked DePaul shooting 5-5 from the field over the next forty five seconds. Xavier closed to 28-16 on a lay p by Brianna Glover, but Megan Podkowa’s 3-pointer sparked a 13-0 DePaul run, capped by Mart’e Grays’ layup off an assist from Hrynko, and a 36-16 lead.
DePaul (24-7) has now won five straight games, its second longest win streak of the year. The Blue Demons are now 10-0 in first round of Big East tournament.
The Blue Demons shot 10-18 from behind the arc in the first half and 14-33 (42.4 percent) for the game. The Musketeers are No. 1 in the Big East in 3-point field goal percentage defense at 30.5 percent. The 14 3-pointers are the most DePaul has converted in Big East tournament play.
Xavier’s (17-14) 34-point loss was its largest point loss in conference play this year. The Musketeers last beat DePaul on January 23, 1984.
“Coach [Bruno] always says that he gives us an offense to run, but it’s about the players who run it,” said January.
Hrynko finished with 13 points and a game-high five assists and Chanise Jenkins added 12 points and four assists for DePaul.
And perhaps the best example of the players running the offense occurred at 11:57 of the second half, when Brooke Schulte grabbed an offensive rebound, passed it to January on the wing, who sent it to Jenkins, who zipped it to Schulte underneath for a layup, DePaul’s 15th assist of the game. Schulte’s basket started a 12-0 DePaul run.
Schulte finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Grays added eight points and four rebounds, and Ashton Millender and Lauren Prochaska each scored five points as the DePaul bench scored 31 points.
Centrese McGee’s two free throws capped a 12-0 DePaul run as the Blue Demons led 71-39 with 9:33 to play.
DePaul plays the winner of the Butler/Villanova game in the semifinals Monday night at 8:00 CST. DePaul is 1-8 in second round conference tournament play.
DePaul Thumps Xavier in Big East Quarters
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