Jenkins scored a career-high and game-high 25 points and added a game-high eight assists, and January added 21 points and five assists as No. 25/24 DePaul beat Marquette 91-86 in the Big East opener for both teams.
Both players combined to go 6-6 from the line in the final 16 seconds as DePaul (9-5, 1-0 Big East) withstood a rally by the Golden Eagles (5-7, 0-1 Big East) in the final two minutes.
A layup by Erika Davenport cut DePaul’s lead to 83-82 with 1:39 left in the game before a 3-pointer from Ashton Millender (10 points) from the right wing put DePaul up by two. McKayla Yentz was then fouled on a 3-point attempt and she went 1-3 from the line. Jenkins secured the rebound on the last missed free throw and was fouled, making both free throws. January’s two free throws with three seconds left sealed the win.
“I live for these moments,” Jenkins said of her fourth quarter free throws. “Big players live for big moments, and that is what I focused on.”
DePaul was ranked No. 1 in the Big East preseason poll, with Marquette coming in at No. 9. But if this game was a barometer of what is to come in conference play, the bigger pollsters may be forced to take notice of the Big East.
The Blue Demons are the only team in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll to have five losses (No. 1 UConn, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Baylor among them). Marquette started the season 0-4, but was 5-2 before tonight. The Golden Eagles led No. 7 Oregon State for 38 minutes before losing 66-58, and they beat Auburn in overtime. Marquette has eight true freshmen and two returning starters.
“The level of competitiveness in this conference is going to help create 17 different games like this,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno.
And it was the level of competitiveness of Jenkins and January which helped spark DePaul tonight.
“[Jenkins and January] did the obvious in passing and scoring, but they did subtle little things like getting a lot of rebounds and getting their hands on a lot of balls,” Bruno said. “They really made the team go tonight.”
Jenkins’ 3-pointer from the left wing at 5:36 of the first quarter tied her with Kris Booker for No. 6 all-time at DePaul for career 3-pointers and those three points moved her past Sam Quigley and into the No. 20 spot for all-time scoring at DePaul.
Marquette scored the final four points of the first half, going 5-7 from the field, and trimming DePaul’s lead to 46-39 at the break.
DePaul has won 13 of the last 16 meetings with Marquette, including four straight.
Jenkins and January were a combined 9-9 from the line tonight.
“I have to go with our experience [in making free throws down the stretch],” Jenkins said. “We know how it feels to lose, and we want to learn from that and go forward from that. We were all focused coming down the stretch, and we were telling each other we had one stop, and coach was telling us to [rebound defensively].”
Marquette launched an 8-0 run in the third quarter to narrow the lead to 58-55. DePaul’s Megan Podkowa then got her tenth rebound tonight, giving her 676 rebounds at DePaul and moving her past Stella Woodley and in to twelfth place all-time at DePaul. Podkowa finished with 11 points and a game-high 12 boards.
Jenkins then played the floor game, literally, missing a 3-pointer but hustling for her own rebound and driving baseline for a layup. She then buried a 12-footer from the right wing and January followed with a jumper in the lane with 1:20 left in the third quarter and a 62-55 DePaul lead. Millender then hit a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Jenkins found Millender underneath to end the quarter. DePaul finished the quarter 5-5 from the field, while Marquette shot 1-5 during that time.
Notes: Jenkins was honored by DePaul before the game for her participation with USA Basketball. The senior served as a captain of the World University Games team that captured the gold medal in Gwangju, South Korea in July.