Tanita Allen scored a game-high 25 points and DePaul put nine players in the scoring column as the No. 7 seed Blue Demons beat No. 10 seed Northern Iowa 88-67 in first round NCAA Tournament play.
“You have to give DePaul credit,” UNI coach Tanya Warren said. “The game was not lost on defense; it was won on offense.”
And Allen directly, and her father indirectly, were offense today.
“Before the game I talked to my father, and he said to just shoot and not think about it,” Allen said.
Allen finished 9-11 from the field, including 5-6 from three-point range. She was just as effective from point blank range, taking the inbounds pass under DePaul basket, and while falling to the ground on the left side of the lane, put in a sweeping left-handed shot off the glass at the third quarter buzzer to give DePaul a 74-48 lead.
“When [Jacqui Grant] goes out early with two fouls, you think you can exploit some areas, but what Allen did, my goodness,” Warren said.
DePaul’s (27-7) 88 points ties for the most points given up by UNI this season. The Panthers (24-9) are No. 33 in the country in points-per-game allowed at 57.3. UNI is 132-17 under the Warren era when holding opponents to 60 points or less per game.
The Blue Demons’ pressure bothered the Panthers early and often, with UNI committing a shot-clock violation, a five-second violation, and often starting their offense near mid-court in the first quarter. DePaul forced 12 turnovers for the game.
Prochaska’s three-pointer was followed by Jessica January’s jumper, both part of a 14-2 DePaul first quarter run. UNI’s only lead was 3-0 to start the game.
DePaul is now 4-1 versus No. 10 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
UNI has two wins over RPI Top 25 teams (Creighton and Kansas State), but the going was as tough as the final scored indicated against No. 19 RPI, DePaul.
“Their pressure got us all out of sorts offensively,” Warren said. “They took us out of what we wanted to do, especially early.”
Brooke Schulte (12 points) opened the second quarter with a jumper for a 24-9 DePaul lead. UNI’s leading scorer, Madison Weekly, did not score her first point until 8:14 of the second quarter. Allen then answered with a four-point play and followed up with a three-pointer as DePaul held its largest lead up to that point at 35-16.
“If you watch our team, it’s not just one person that steps up,” Schulte said. “Any given player on this team can step up. It’s what makes us so versatile and our team chemistry so great.”
Grant finished with seven points, a game-high 11 rebounds, and a game-high three steals. January added nine points for the Blue Demons.
DePaul shot 52.9 percent (36-68) from the field and 45.8 percent (11-24) from behind the arc.
“I thought [Tanita] had a hot hand as well as [Lauren Prochaska],” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. “It was a great offensive game. We had 26 assists on 36 baskets, and Lauren had a lot to do with that.”
Prochaska finished with a career-high 12 points and a game-high six assists. She is No. 18 in the country in assist/turnover ratio at 2.64. Her six assists today gives her over 100 assists this season.
“It all comes down to my teammates putting themselves in a position to get me the ball in places where I can score and them having the confidence to give me the ball,” Prochaska said, “and when I am assisting [on their baskets] and putting them in a position to hit their shots. I think it comes back to team chemistry and a cohesiveness to trust each other and to give each other the ball and to be excited when everyone scores points.”
Amarah Coleman (10 points) set DePaul’s aggressive tone early with four first quarter points, two on a steal and full-court drive and lay up.
Prochaska’s reference to the “we” was not confined to the floor.
“When I made my first three’s, the Bench Mob was hyping me up,” Allen said.
UNI’s bench had outscored its opponents’ bench in 29 of their prior 32 games this season, but the DePaul’s bench outscored the Panther’s bench 38-17 today.
DePaul got six points from Chante Stonewall, five from Kelly Campbell, and two points and a block from Meri Bennett-Swanson off the bench.
Allen’s wrestling a rebound away from the Panthers’ Heidi Hillard and converting a put back accented DePaul’s dominance today and put the Blue Demons up 60-37 midway through the third quarter. A Prochaska three-pointer from the right wing was followed by DePaul holding the Panthers without a field goal for 4:16.
The last time DePaul was a No. 7 seed it beat No. 10 seed Oklahoma and No. 2 seed Duke to advance to the Sweet 16. The Blue Demons will play the winner of No. 2 seed Mississippi State and No. 15 seed Troy on Sunday afternoon.
DEPAUL 22 29 23 14
UNI 9 24 15 19