Megan Podkowa scored 14 points and top seed DePaul got off to a blistering start to beat No. 9 seed Butler 76-49 in Sunday night's quarterfinal game of the Big East women's basketball tournament, which is presented by Jeep.
"Coach [Bruno] has been warning us that this is March Madness and anyone can win, so we knew we had to get off to a quick start, and that is what we had been focusing on all week," Podkowa said.
No. 18/18 DePaul (25-7) hit four of its first five 3-pointers for a 12-2 lead in a game that Butler never led. The Blue Demons held their largest lead of 29 points with just over two minutes to play. DePaul's 25 wins is fifth most in school history.
DePaul has now won nine straight and 12 of its last 13. The Blue Demons, winners of the Big East tournament for the past two years, won 14 of their last 16 games last year and 18 of their last 20 in 2013. DePaul is now 11-0 in Big East tournament first round play.
DePaul and Butler last played on Feb. 14 and the Blue Demons ended the second quarter on a 22-3 run. Two jumpers by DePaul's Brooke Schulte keyed an 8-0 run in the second quarter and a 31-11 lead midway through the quarter tonight.
Jessica January added 10 points and a game-high six assists for DePaul.
"We really just tried to maintain our energy throughout the whole game, and that really helped us, even though we didn't shoot very well tonight," January said.
DePaul shot 38.7 percent from the floor for the game.
Butler's leading scorer, Blaire Langlois, had averaged 15.8 ppg in her last eight games. She is third all-time at Butler in three-point field goals with 177. She has held to nine points on 3-12 shooting and did not score her first field goal until 9:51 of the third quarter.
"Brooke Schulte did a really good job taking her out early in the game and just trying to limit her touches," January said.
DePaul's Jacqui Grant hit her team's third straight field goal for a 49-28 in the third quarter, and Podkowa added a three-pointer from the right wing for a 55-35 lead with just under one minute to play.
Podkowa is only player in DePaul women's basketball history to record at least 1,800 points, 800 rebounds, and 130 blocks in a career.
DePaul and UConn are the only two Division I teams with three players each in the top 50 in assist/turnover ratio. January is No. 11 at 2.68, Chanise Jenkins is No. 23 at 2.31, and Podkowa is No. 41 at 2.13. The three combined for nine assists and one turnover tonight.
The Blue Demons placed 11 players in the scoring column tonight.
"What makes this team a great team is the fact that they are a team," Bruno said.
DePaul plays the winner of No. 4 seed St. John's and No. 5 Georgetown in the semifinals Mon. night at 5:30 p.m. Central.