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January, Prochaska Push DePaul Career-Highs

CHICAGO - It wasn’t Career Day at DePaul on Tuesday. But it was Career-High Night for the women’s basketball team.

DePaul had four players who set or tied career-highs, and the Blue Demons set team season-highs in beating Chicago State 88-42 at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

No. 20 DePaul, coming off a loss Sunday to No. 4 Baylor in the preseason WNIT title game, showed no signs of letting down or letting up tonight.  

“Baylor was a tough game,” said DePaul’s Jessica January. “We just want to keep getting better every game; it doesn’t matter who we are playing.”

January had five assists in the first four minutes tonight and set a career-high with 10 assists. She added 14 points and two steals in her 22 minutes of play.

DePaul led 16-5 with 2:24 left in the first quarter before Chanise Jenkins (13 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the route was on. The Blue Demons’ largest lead was 46 points with just under one minute to play in the game.

Guard Lauren Prochaska had career-highs in points and steals with six each. She played the bulk of her minutes in the fourth quarter.

“Going into the game you are trying to make an impact and do something good for your team,” said Prochaska. “Being a point guard in the fourth quarter, if you can get a rebound, if you can get a steal, or push the ball and get a teammate open, that keeps the energy up. It’s important no matter what the score is that you continue to play harder.”

“In the fourth quarter I thought Lauren Prochaska gave a great lesson for our starters sitting on the bench,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “Our players on the bench got to watch her do all the little things between the touches that we are trying to get the starters to do.”

DePaul’s Megan Podkowa scored a game-high 19 points on 8-10 from the field. Her back-to-back 3-pointers at 8:50 of the second quarter ignited a 19-4 DePaul run and gave the Blue Demons a 39-15 lead with 5:20 to play. Brandi Harvey-Carr’s layup made it 41-15 at 3:41, but DePaul did not score for the next 3:35 until Prochaska rattled home a jumper with six seconds left.

Harvey-Carr tied a career-high with 14 points. Brooke Schulte tied a career-high with four assists.

DePaul eclipsed its season-high in assists, 24 versus Baylor, with 26 tonight. The Blue Demons also set a team season-high with 18 steals. 

The Cougars (0-5) are averaging 23 turnovers per game and had 32 tonight, leading to 39 DePaul points. The Cougars have had more turnovers than their opponents in each game this year. DePaul has forced at least 20 turnovers in each of its five games this year. 

Chicago State reached its program apex in 2010 when they finished 24-10 and advanced to the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational tournament. The Cougars have gone 17-102 in the past four years, but Bruno considers Chicago State head coach Angela Jackson one of the best coaches in the country due to the difficulty in recruiting there. The Cougars do have wins versus Northwestern, Tulane, and Dayton. They play five teams this year that participated in post-season tourneys last year.

The two teams met for the fourteenth time. DePaul has won 11 straight. The Cougars won the first three meetings, from 1975-1977. 

Podkowa’s 3-pointer in the third quarter started a 25-4 DePaul run and gave the Blue Demons a 68-27 lead.

DePaul started a four-game home stand tonight, with Colgate on Friday and No. 1 UConn and Illinois State waiting.

And despite tonight’s easy win, the road for DePaul gets bumpier in the coming weeks.

The Baylor game marked the first of five ranked teams the Blue Demons will play over a span of 22 days: UConn on Dec. 2; at No. 3 Notre Dame on Dec. 9; at No. 12 Texas A&M on Dec. 12; and at No. 22 Northwestern on Dec. 19.

DePaul also plays at South Dakota State on Dec. 15. The Jackrabbits lost 75-64 at home earlier this week to Notre Dame in front of 5, 532 fans at Frost Arena. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said after the game that the arena was so loud at times that she could not hear herself think during her team’s huddles.

The Blue Demons tip off versus Colgate this Friday at 7:00 p.m. Central. 

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