USA Today

DePaul Women Top WKU in Gulf Coast Tourney  

ESTERO, Fla.- One of the tenets of successful mountaineering is to know when to turn back. Not so for Jessica January and DePaul on the hardwood Friday afternoon.

January scored a game-high 25 points and Amarah Coleman's aggressive third quarter play helped propel No. 18/17 DePaul to a 77-69 win over Western Kentucky in opening play of the Gulf Coast Showcase.   

"All teams have to learn how to win on the road," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "It's hard to make baskets when you [are not at home], so that means you have to do other things better. And that means you have to defend, you have to rebound, and you have to be intelligent about putting the other team at the free throw line. I did not think we were great in those areas, but as the game went along we did enough down the stretch to bring home the game."  

This game featured two preseason conference Players of the Year in January and Western Kentucky's Kendall Noble, but it was January's leadership and numbers that proved mightily as the game progressed.

"[Western Kentucky] came out of the third quarter on a bit of a run, so I told [my teammates] we have to come together as a team and start executing a little bit better," January said.

The Hilltoppers (2-2) had crept to 64-61 before January's three-pointer at 7:19 of the fourth quarter scored what would be DePaul's last field goal for the rest of the game.

January passed Jenna Rubino for 21st place in scoring all-time at DePaul.

Western Kentucky tied the game at 49 on a layup by Ima Akpan at 2:44 of the third quarter before Coleman dominated the next two minutes, sinking a three-pointer, scoring on a layup off an assist from January, and converting a three-point play to give DePaul a 57-52 lead with just under one minute to play in the quarter.

"It was me just really relaxing and playing," Coleman said. "Coach Bruno was getting on me the whole game to just relax and play my game and play DePaul Ball."

DePaul shot 10-14 from the line in the fourth quarter to seal the win. The Blue Demons had 19 assists, including January's game-high seven assists, and forced 15 turnover for the game.

Jacqui Grant added 13 points and 10 rebounds and Ashton Millender added 11 points and three assists for DePaul. The Blue Demons outrebounded the Hilltoppers 42-40.

DePaul (4-0) advances in the winner's bracket to face No. 5/6 Baylor on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Central.

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