January scored a game-high 25 points in 39 minutes of play to help No. 21/21 DePaul beat UAB 90-80 and capture the Maggie Dixon Classic championship on Saturday night at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
"To watch her relentless pursuit of the game for 39 minutes without much rest is a statement about how good a basketball player Jessica January is," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "She kind of put the team on her back with her competitiveness."
January was named the tournament's MVP, while teammates Jacqui Grant and Ashton Millender were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The last two times these two teams played each other was in 2005, and DePaul had five players in double figures in an 85-52 win. The Blue Demons were lucky tonight to have five players in uniform at the end of the game.
Starters Amarah Coleman and Brooke Schulte each had four fouls by the end of the third quarter and Grant picked up her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter. DePaul also had four players not dress due to injuries.
"We are not close yet to being into the place of precision that we need to be in our half court execution on both sides of the ball, and that is because we haven't been whole," Bruno said.
Grant was solid in her 34 minutes of play, notching the game's only double-double with 11 points and a game-high 15 boards. Grant started the game 0-5 from the floor.
DePaul (2-0) got a three-pointer from Deja Cage at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but UAB then went on a 33-14 run to close to 87-80 late in the quarter.
Bruno has said that it is not just the seniors on his team that lead, but every player.
"In the second half when UAB was making its run, everybody on the floor was taking ownership and being leaders themselves," January said. "And I think the most important part was communicating and being vocal to try and fix our defensive possessions."
Millender scored five of DePaul's first six points and ended with 21 on 8-16 shooting from the field.
"Ashton has started to show that she is more that just a shooter and that she can do more for the team than just shoot the basketball," Bruno said.
"Its about playing through adversity," Millender said. "We just had to communicate about getting back from full court to half court and getting back and stopping layups and [three-pointers]."
DePaul was out shot percentage-wise by UAB, 50.8 to 41.9, but the Blue Demons got off 11 more shots that the Blazers. DePaul had 19 points off 16 UAB turnovers.
UAB (1-1) is now 3-28 all-time versus ranked teams.
Tonight's game is number 1,250 in DePaul women's basketball history and it is Bruno's 615th win at DePaul.
And while tonight's game was a great example of women honoring the woman whom the tournament is named after, Bruno decided against talking to his team before the game about Maggie Dixon due to the death's of two relatives of DePaul players. But in the post-game interview, it was not difficult to sense the passion and emotion in Bruno's voice about Dixon, a passion and emotion that anybody who knew Dixon was aware that she, too, carried.
DePaul returns to action this Saturday at home to play Northwestern.