USA Today

DePaul Tames SIU for WNIT Win

CHICAGO - It was the same tournament, the same floor, and the same result for DePaul Friday night.

DePaul’s Megan Podkowa scored a game-high 17 points and 22nd ranked DePaul beat Southern Illinois 105-61 in the first round of the preseason WNIT at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

The Blue Demons (1-0) set a preseason WNIT single-game record for most made field goals with 44, breaking the record of 39 held jointly by Texas A&M (1995) and UConn (2001).

DePaul last played in the preseason WNIT in 2010, advancing to the title game versus Purdue after a win versus Florida at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Podkowa’s put back with six minutes left in the second quarter gave her 1,000 career points at DePaul and made her the school’s 33rd 1,000 point scorer.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it. [The team] doesn’t really talk about it or think about it,” said Podkowa.  

Podkowa was 7-12 from the field and had the game’s only double-double with 11 rebounds. She added three assists and two steals.

“I thought Megan did a good job of finding her mismatch, which is something we have been trying to get her to understand,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno.

Mart’e Grays added 16 points (7-8 from the field) for DePaul. 

“I just had to push myself and exhaust myself throughout the game,” said Grays.

And not only today, but last night as well. Grays was in the gym at 10:30 the previous night working on her shooting. 

She started the game 2-2 from the field and had three rebounds in the game’s opening two minutes and an 8-2 DePaul lead.  She started the third quarter 4-5 from the field to fuel a 12-4 DePaul run and a 65-39 lead.

The Salukis (0-1) played without leading scorer and rebounder Dyana Pierre (16.2 ppg and 11.8 rpg last year). Pierre was suspended to open this year after violating the team’s code of conduct.

SIU coach Cindy Stein said earlier in the week “[DePaul] never takes a break from their press.”

DePaul had 15 steals and forced 23 turnovers for the game. Chanise Jenkins (16 points and a game-high tying seven assists) had four steals for the Blue Demons. 

This was SIU’s first appearance in the preseason WNIT since 1997. The Salukis last beat DePaul in 1983, and all three of their wins in the series have been in Carbondale. DePaul leads the series 10-3. SIU was 5-25 in 2013 and 17-13 last year, one of the largest turnarounds in the NCAA last season. The Salukis last beat a ranked opponent on the road in 1992.

SIU held opponents to an average of 67 points per game last year, but DePaul pierced that level on Podkowa’s 3-point play with 5:02 left in the third quarter. 

DePaul scored 20 points in the paint in the first quarter and shot 52 percent (12-23) from the field for a 26-12 lead. The Salukis closed to 36-28 in the second quarter on Carlie Corrigan’s 3-pointer, but Jessica January (15 points) scored five straight field goals as part of a 13-3 DePaul run and a 49-31 lead with just under two minutes to play.

Ashton Millender’s (career-high 14 points) layup off an assist from Lauren Prochaska with 3:31 to play gave DePaul 40 field goals, and the record, for the game.

Meri Bennett-Swanson’s left-handed jump hook in the lane with 2:23 to play pushed DePaul over the century mark and a 101-60 lead.

DePaul plays St. Bonaventure in round two on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Central at McGrath-Phillips Arena. St. Bonaventure beat Siena 57-40 behind Miranda Drummond’s game-high 15 points. 

Notes:

-  The preseason WNIT began its modern form in 1994. Since its inception, over 200 teams representing all 32 conferences have competed in the tournament. 10 of the 16 teams in this year’s tournament advanced to postseason play last year.


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