No. 18/17 DePaul put four players in double figures and beat No. 11/18 Syracuse 108-84 in the third place game of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Sunday.
Ashton Millender (14 points) hit DePaul's first two shots, both three-pointers, as DePaul (5-1) jumped out early and never trailed in the game.
But before the opening tip tonight, there was still residue to deal with from last night's loss to No. 5/6 Baylor, with DePaul coach Doug Bruno pointing out to his team until 12:00 noon on Sunday the things his team could have done differently against the Bears.
"It was really important for us to bounce back after we played a really good Baylor team [on Saturday] and got spanked," Bruno said. "To be able to pick yourself up off the mat in less than 24-hours and play the 11th ranked team in the country is a testament to Jessica January and Brooke Schulte."
January bounced back from a subpar performance against Baylor. She finished tonight with 18 points, 13 assists, a team-high eight rebounds, and three steals despite not taking her first field goal attempt until 8:26 of the second quarter.
"Coming out in the beginning of the game, everyone was knocking down shots," January said. "It's never about one person scoring. Everyone came into this game with a lot of energy, doing the little things."
Schulte scored a team-high and season-high 21 points on 7-12 shooting to go along with three assists. And the importance of learning from the Baylor game, but also turning the page, helped her with her performance tonight.
"[I needed] to come into this game with a blank slate," Schulte said. "Coach [Bruno] always uses the statement to take 10 minutes after a game to look in the mirror, what you could do differently and how hard you played during that game, and the just let it go."
Schulte was just 1-3 from the field in the first quarter, but her game ignited in quarter two as she scored 11 points to help DePaul to 54-37 halftime lead.
"This was not just a third place game tonight," Bruno said. "This is an NCAA Tournament impact game. Syracuse is the national defending runner up, they have a lot of very, very good players, and they are going to be heard from this season again."
All of that is true, but it is difficult to believe that Syracuse will have an easy time letting go of what happened tonight.
DePaul scored the most points, made the most field goals (36), made the most three-point field goals (19), and had the most assists (32) of a Syracuse opponent this season.
Consecutive three-pointers by Amarah Coleman (nine points), Tanita Allen (eight points), Kelly Campbell (seven points), and Allen again sparked a 17-2 first quarter DePaul run as the Blue Demons opened up a 29-11 lead with just over one minute to play.
Coleman had the highlight play of the game in the third quarter when she chased a ball out of bounds along DePaul's baseline and fired a behind-the-back pass to Jacqui Grant for a lay up.
Grant finished with a season-high 19 points and five boards. Syracuse (4-3) went on a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter to close to 60-47 before Grant hit two lay ups and a three-pointer to end the threat.
DePaul's 108 points are the most scored against Syracuse since 1988, and the last time the Orange gave up 100+ points was on November 28, 1996. Syracuse had been giving up an average of 64.0 ppg this season.
And as frustrating as the Baylor loss was, DePaul got life, great play, and 27 points from its bench tonight.
"Lauren Prochaska (four rebounds and two assists) gave us a great lift off the bench, and so did Kelly Campbell," Bruno said.
Freshman Chante Stonewall was off the bench early for DePaul, a reward for her good play against Baylor (five points and two rebounds). She finished tonight with three points and three rebounds, and made some key plays with her aggression on DePaul's full-court press.
DePaul forced 16 turnovers tonight and dished out a season-high 32 assists.
The Blue Demons now leads the series 6-3 and snapped a two-game series win streak for Syracuse.