Chanise Jenkins scored a team-high 21 points but DePaul’s three-quarter rally fell short as Seton Hall snapped the Blue Demons’ four-game win streak, 83-74, on Friday afternoon.
No. 23/21 DePaul had a 32-point lead against the Pirates in the first meeting this year before Seton Hall rallied to get within seven points before losing. The first ten minutes today was as if the teams had exchanged uniforms.
“[Seton Hall] was more ready to play when we started the game than we were,” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. “And I did not think we were not ready to play, but they got off to a great start and we did not.”
Seton Hall (17-4, 7-3 Big East) jumped out to a 10-4 lead before Jenkins’ layup ended a scoreless drought of 3:42, a span where DePaul shot 0-5 from the field. The Pirates increased their lead to 16-6, with DePaul continuing to struggle, shooting 1-11 from the field. The Pirates ended the first quarter on an 18-2 run to grab a 21-6 lead. The Blue Demons shot 18 percent (3-17) from the field including 0-9 from three-point range. The Pirates shot 50 percent (8-16) from the field in the opening quarter.
And that lack of a great start included DePaul’s second leading scorer, Megan Podkowa, picking up her second foul mid-way through the first quarter. Podkowa finished with nine points and five boards in 30 minutes of play. Podkowa, in her last three games versus Seton Hall, averaged 15 ppg and six rebounds.
DePaul outscored Seton Hall 68-62 over the next three quarters.
“We told each other not to force any shots, chip away at the lead, take our time, rebound, and play good defense,” Jenkins said concerning what DePaul talked about entering the second quarter.
Seton Hall had its largest lead of the game, 20 points at 6:07 of the second quarter, before DePaul (16-7, 8-2) closed the quarter on a 15-2 run to trail 35-28 at the break. The Pirates had five turnovers and shot 1-7 from the field during that time. A three-pointer by Jessica January capped DePaul’s run.
January scored 17 points and had eight assists. Jenkins added four assists. DePaul had 20 assists on 27 baskets for the game. January has 139 assists this season and Jenkins has 109. DePaul is the only Division I team to have two players in the top 50 for assists, with January at No. 8 and Jenkins at No. 35. Jenkins moved into eighteenth all-time in scoring at DePaul and January moved into thirty-second in that same category.
DePaul is No. 3 in Division I in assists per game at 20.9, and is No. 1 all-time at DePaul for a single season as of today. The 1994-95 team averaged 20.2 apg.
Jacqui Grant’s (15 points) two free throws cut the lead to 48-45 with 1:56 left in the third quarter, but Tabatha Richardson-Smith answered with a three-pointer for the Pirates. DePaul got no closer the rest of the way. Ashton Millender’s three-pointer gave the 3,000 school kids that were part of DePaul’s annual Field Trip Day something to scream about as DePaul got to within 62-57 at 7:14 of the final quarter, but DePaul was scoreless over the next three minutes.
The Blue Demons shot 25 percent from three-point range (9-36) and the Pirates shot 42.1 percent (8-19) for the game. The Big East conference is fourth in the country in three-point field goal percentage with 34.5 percent before today. The conference trails the Big Ten, the PAC 12, and the Summit League in that order.
This loss leaves DePaul in first place in the Big East, but Sunday’s 12:00 p.m. Central showdown with second place St. John’s looms large. The Blue Demons beat the Red Storm 71-61 earlier this year. St. John’s is 6-2, followed by Seton Hall in third place.
Today’s game was DePaul’s Field Trip Day, where the school provides buses and tickets for 3,000 school children to attend the game.
Bruno thanked the DePaul administration after the game and said that “DePaul was one of the first, if not the first, schools in the country to start these Field Trip Days many, many years ago. This has been duplicated across the country, including in the WNBA. It is another effort to grow the game of women’s basketball.”