No. 18/18 DePaul placed four players in double figures, but mental lapses in the second half led to a 75-66 loss to St. John's in the Big East tournament semi-finals presented by the Jeep brand on Monday night.
DePaul (25-8) had 16 turnovers and St. John's scored 22 points off of them. DePaul's 12 assists were the second lowest for the Blue Demons this season. Starting guards Chanise Jenkins, Jessica January, and Brooke Schulte shot a combined 9-28 from the field. Jenkins' 14 points moved her into fourteenth place all-time scoring at DePaul with 1,576.
DePaul had won both regular season games versus the Red Storm (22-9) this year. The Blue Demons are now 2-9 in Big East tournament second games. No. 1 seed DePaul had never played a No. 4 seed in the tournament before tonight.
The two teams were tied at 14 at the end of the first quarter, but they shot a combined 4-22 from the field.
DePaul sophomore Ashton Millender tied a career-high with 15 points and her three-pointer at 6:56 in the second quarter capped a 7-0 DePaul run and a 21-18 Blue Demon lead. Jenkins hit her second straight three-pointer and Millender followed with another three-pointer for a 34-28 DePaul halftime lead.
"Ashton has been getting better all along and she's had a good run down the stretch here," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "She didn't play over her head; that's what Ashton is."
The Red Storm's Aliyyah Handford and Danaejah Grant have combined for 40 points 10 times this season, but had a combined 36 points and 27 points in the two regular season games between the two teams. They scored a combined 45 points tonight and Grant had the game's only double-double with 10 rebounds.
But it was St. John's defense that undid DePaul tonight.
"When St. John's defended us as well as they defended us tonight, you have to have the patience to wait out possessions," Bruno said. "And we didn't have that patience. We were just constantly trying to jam and just make something out of nothing. There was nothing there."
Brooke Schulte's jumper from the left wing with 6:00 left in the third quarter gave DePaul its largest lead of the game at 43-33, but St. John's closed to 45-41 on a layup by Grant with just under 30 seconds left. DePaul finished the quarter 1-10 from the field and was held scoreless in the last 2:50.
"Every time we turned the ball over they came down and scored the ball, so I think that was a big difference, and they capitalized on those turnovers." Jenkins said.
Millender's three-pointer with 6:34 to play gave DePaul a 54-49 lead, but St. John's finished the game 11-11 from the field and on a 26-12 run.
Megan Podkowa and Jacqui Grant each added 13 points each for DePaul.
St. John's plays No. 7 seed Creighton Tues. night at 7:00 p.m. CT for the Big East tournament title.