Transfers Amarah Coleman and Jacqui Grant paced five players in double figures as No. 20 DePaul beat Colgate 96-46 at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
“We are thrilled that [Amarah and Jacqui] were able to be on the floor tonight and help us,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “I think they will be very beneficial to the growth of our team.”
DePaul found out this past Wednesday that Coleman and Grant had been granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. The two had transferred from Illinois earlier this year.
The 5-foot-11 Coleman averaged 7.1 ppg and 2.1 rpg as a freshman last year at Illinois. She shot 41.7 percent from 3-point range. She scored 24 points versus No. 8 Maryland.
The 6-foot-3 Grant averaged 9.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg as a sophomore last year. She scored 29 points v. Minnesota and had 15 rebounds versus No. 17 Iowa.
“We really think Jacqui has got some great skill sets inside. We expect our inside players to have guard skills and she does have a good array of guard skills,” said Bruno. “Amarah has skills to play any of the backcourt positions. I think their skill sets and athleticism is going to be very beneficial to us and for us.”
The impact of both players was felt early. They entered the game together at 6:11 of the first quarter. On the next play, Grant tipped a Colgate inbounds pass to Coleman, who missed a layup, but Grant was there for the put back. On DePaul’s next possession Coleman hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and was followed by Grant’s high-post lob to Megan Podkowa as part of 7-0 DePaul run and a 16-4 lead for the Blue Demons.
“I was pretty energetic and excited [to enter the game], said Grant, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 18 minutes of play. “To be able to put on that uniform and go out and play with my teammates was a great feeling and I thought we got out to a pretty solid start.”
“It was a great feeling to get on the court with the teammates that you had had been working with,” said Coleman who had a game-high 15 points and three of DePaul’s 12 steals.
Grant attributed her smooth transition to fitting in well with DePaul’s system and Bruno teaching her and Coleman how DePaul Ball works, how to be tough, and how to play the game.
Coleman, especially, said she loves playing DePaul Ball, but she acknowledges the challenge of being conditioned every day, and that it is a different type of running game.
“Every college player says they want to come in and run, but Bruno’s run is a different type of run.”
The two were joined by Jessica January’s 14 points, Ashton Millender’s 13 points, and Podkowa’s 10 points and team-high seven boards.
January had the highlight of the night when, at 5:40 of the second quarter, she rocketed a half-court pass to a streaking Mart’e Grays on the break for a layup, a 3-point play, and a 41-17 DePaul lead. The Blue Demons shot 54 percent from the field (15-28) at that point while Colgate labored at 22 percent (8-24).
Tonight was the homecoming of Colgate head coach Nicci Hays Fort, who was an assistant at DePaul from 2006-11. During that time the Blue Demons compiled a 112-54 record, including a 29-7 mark and DePaul’s second Sweet 16 appearance in 2011.
But as well as Hays knows the McGrath-Phillips Arena chessboard, it was difficult for her team to get in the correct places at the correct times.
DePaul (5-1) is No. 11 in Division I in steals per game at 14.2 and had 12 steals tonight. The Blue Demons forced the Raiders into 25 turnovers, scoring 26 points off of them.
Colgate’s (0-4) Josie Stockill was leading Division I in blocked shots with five per game but managed two tonight.
The teams were scoreless for the first three minutes of the third quarter before Grant hit a 3-pointer, Millender sank a 3-pointer, and Podkowa’s layup gave DePaul a 61-28 lead with 4:37 left in the quarter.
DePaul won its sixth straight home game dating back to last year.
Colgate was No. 22 in Division I in offensive rebounds per game at 18.0, but managed just 12 tonight as DePaul outrebounded the Raiders 15 on the offensive end and 44-38 overall.
The New England invasion continues with 10-time national champion and three-time defending national champion No. 1 UConn visiting McGrath-Phillips Arena this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.