DePaul vs. St. Francis, PA Game Preview

Preview Saturday's Game Between the Blue Demons and Saint Francis, PA

Game #11

#16/16 DePaul (9-1) vs. Saint Francis (0-8)

DePaul Athletic Center - Chicago, Ill.

Dec. 17, 2005 - 7:00 p.m.

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CHICAGO - The DePaul Blue Demons host Saint Francis (Pa.) in a non-conference game at the DePaul Athletic Center. The Blue Demons have won 28 straight home games and are looking to start the season at 10-1 for just the third time in program history. DePaul knocked off UW-Green Bay last Saturday and Northern Illinois on Monday after dropping the BIG EAST opener at USF on Dec. 7.

The Blue Demons enter the weekend ranked No. 16 in both the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA Coaches' Top 25. DePaul is one of four BIG EAST programs in the nation's top 16.

The Saint Francis game and all remaining regular-season games can be heard live at Jason Benetti is in his first year on the headset for the Blue Demons and will describe all the action this season.

Following Saturday's game, the Blue Demons go on the "road" for a pair of local games at Loyola-Chicago and Northwestern. DePaul takes on the Ramblers on Tuesday in Rogers Park before making the trip to Evanston on Thursday for a game with the Wildcats. Tipoff is 7 p.m. for both games.

Noting the Blue Demons: DePaul started the season at 7-0 for the second time in the last three years and the third time in school history... the 9-1 record matches the best start through 10 games... the 91-79 victory at UW-Milwaukee on Nov. 30 was the 550th win in program history... in the 32nd season of play at DePaul, the women's basketball program is 553-332... DePaul returns nine players and four starters from last season's 26-5 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament's second round... the nine returners accounted for 85 percent of the offense a year ago while the four starters were responsible for 62 percent of the points... DePaul also returns 91 percent of the rebounding with the nine players combining for a .477 field goal percentage... Claudette Towers has started nine of the 10 games this season... she entered her senior season with four career starts... the Rainbow Wahine Classic title was DePaul's sixth straight in-season tournament championship... they won the Moran Realty Classic in 2002, 2003, 2004 and the Blue Sky Restaurant Classic in 2004... the team opened this season with a DePaul Invitational championship followed by the Rainbow Wahine Classic title... the Blue Demons have scored at least 50 points in a half three times this season... it occurred 11 times during the 2004-05 season... the team is 12-0 in games where they have scored 50 in at least one half... in four of 10 games this season, the team has combined to shoot better than .500 from the field... UW-Milwaukee and USF are the only teams to post a higher field goal percentage this season... over the last five-plus seasons (164 games), DePaul has scored at least 80 points in 62 games.. they hold a 59-3 record in those games.

Saint Francis Preview: The Red Flash play their first game since an 89-52 loss at Sacred Heart on Dec. 10. Saint Francis enters the weekend looking for their first win of the season. The DePaul game also starts a six-game road swing followed by trips to Penn State and Louisville and three conference games. Amber Hein leads the team with 12.6 points while Kanisha Garrett averages 7.1 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per contest. Head coach JIll Poe is in her third season at Saint Francis and holds a 46-32 record. Prior to Saint Francis, she was an assistant at Duquesne for six seasons.

The Series: Saturday is the first meeting between the two programs.

Against the Northeast Conference: DePaul is 1-0 all-time against programs from the Northeast Conference. The Blue Demons defeated Long Island, 101-47, in the Budget Invitational hosted by DePaul at Alumni Hall on Dec. 2, 1994.

Interesting and Irrelevant: In the last two games, the Blue Demons have held their opponents to 23 points in a half in three of the four periods... prior to this season, DePaul was never ranked 11th or 14th in the AP poll... that ended with a No. 14 slot the week of Nov. 28 and a tie for 11th the week of Dec. 5.

Against the State: DePaul has seen recent success against opponents from the state of Illinois. Over the last 29 games against Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Loyola-Chicago, Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Southern Illinois, the Blue Demons have posted 28 victories. In 2004-05 against Northwestern, Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois, the club was a perfect 5-0. This season, the Blue Demons topped Northern Illinois and play at Loyola-Chicago and Northwestern next week.

The Illini snapped a 14-game winning streak against state opponents for DePaul with the 71-67 decision on Dec. 4, 2002. In addition to the 14-game streak ended during the 2002-03 season, DePaul has won 33 of the last 35 games against state opponents. Currently, the Blue Demons have 14 straight wins over Illinois schools entering this season. DePaul takes on their three Illinois opponents in a span of four games. Saint Francis is the lone non-Illinois opponent during the run.

Program-Best Ranking: DePaul's No. 11 slot in last week's Associated Press top 25 is the highest ranking in program history for the writer's poll. It surpassed the previous best of No. 12 set in Feb. 2004 and matches the top ranking for the program in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches' poll.

The Blue Demons started the season in No. 18 in the preseason poll before moving up to 17th the week of Nov. 21. Following the Rainbow Wahine Classic title, the team jumped three spots to No. 14 before moving up three slots again to No. 11 following a 91-79 win at UW-Milwaukee and a 65-54 victory over No. 22/23 Purdue. The 79-77 overtime loss at USF pushed the Blue Demons down to their current slot of No. 16.

Khara Smith Named a Candidate for Senior CLASS Award: DePaul senior forward Khara Smith was one of 30 student-athletes nominated for the 2005-06 Bayer Advantage Senior CLASS Award. The award, now in its fifth year, is presented annually to the nation's senior player-of-the-year for men's and women's basketball.

An acronym for "Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School," the award was initiated by sportscaster Dick Enberg and launched during the 2001-02 season. A list of 10 finalists will be named in February and be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide voting process during the NCAA Tournament. Enberg will announce the winners at the men's Final Four in April.

The BIG EAST leads all conferences with six nominees. Joining Smith on the list from the BIG EAST are Megan Duffy of Notre Dame, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, Connecticut's Ann Strother and Barbara Turner, and Liad Suez-Karni from Villanova. A year ago, Khara's cousin, Charlene Smith, was a nominee for the same award.

Busy, Busy: DePaul's six victories in the month of November is a program-best surpassing the five-win month a year ago. The six total games also sets a monthly high matching the six games played by the 2001-02 squad. In that season, the Blue Demons posted a 4-2 record in November.

Three times in program history a team has started the season with seven straight wins. The previous two 7-0 squads improved to 8-0 in their eighth games of the season. The 1085-86 squad started at 9-0 before their first loss while the 2003-04 team started the season at 8-0.

Three-Fifty: Head coach Doug Bruno earned his 350th coaching victory at DePaul in the win over UNLV on Nov. 19. In his 20th season with the Blue Demons, he holds a record of 357-211 (.629). In 22 seasons of coaching women's basketball, he has a 396-241 record.

One Thousand: With 13 rebounds against UNLV, Khara Smith became the fourth player in school history with 1,000 career rebounds. She joins Diana Vines, Mfon Udoka (pronounced Oom-fon U-dough-kuh) and Debra Robinson in the DePaul record books. Following the game against Northern Illinois, she has 1,091 career boards and joins Vines as one of two players in school history with at least 1,700 points and 1,000 rebounds. Against the Panthers, she passed Udoka and moved into second all-time. Vines holds the record with 1,296 rebounds.

New Faces, New Places: DePaul begins play in the BIG EAST Conference this season. Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida join the Blue Demons from Conference USA to form the largest conference in NCAA Division I with 16 programs. The 2005-06 BIG EAST line-up includes Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, St. John's, Seton Hall, South Florida, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia.

DePaul enters the season with an 85-55 all-time record against the 2005-06 group of BIG EAST members. Of the 140 games against BIG EAST opponents, the Blue Demons have played Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame and USF a total of 130 times. The program is a combined 5-5 all-time against Connecticut, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova and West Virginia. DePaul plays Rutgers, St. John's and Syracuse for the first time this season.

The Blue Demons dropped their BIG EAST opener on Dec. 7 with a 79-77 overtime loss at USF. DePaul returns to league action on Jan. 3 against Pittsburgh at the DePaul Athletic Center.

BIG EAST Beast: The new-look lineup of BIG EAST programs is off to a strong start as the schools entered last weekend with a combined 87-30 (.744) in non-conference games and hold four of the top 16 spots in each of the national polls. League schools have played against 28 different conferences and remain undefeated against 14 of them. Joining the Blue Demons in the nation's top 16 in the Associated Press poll are No. 7 Rutgers, No. 9 Connecticut and No. 13 Notre Dame. In the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA Coaches' Top 25, Rutgers is No. 7 followed by Connecticut at No. 9. Notre Dame is ranked 14th in the Coaches' poll with the Blue Demons at 16th in each top 25.

Conference History: The BIG EAST Conference is the fourth conference for DePaul's women's basketball program. The Blue Demons were members of the North Star Conference from 1983-91, the Great Midwest Conference from 1991-95 and Conference USA from 1995-2005.

Rainbow Recap: DePaul topped Eastern Michigan, Texas A&M and Wisconsin en route to the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic. Khara Smith picked up MVP honors with three double-doubles and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Allie Quigley and Jenna Rubino.

DePaul knocked off Eastern Michigan, 64-49, behind 21 points from Quigley and a 12-point, 11-rebound game from Smith. The Blue Demons used a 17-5 run in the second half to pull away after leading, 24-19, at halftime.

The Blue Demons advanced to the championship game with an 84-71 decision against Texas A&M. Four players reached double-figures led by Rubino's 18 points. DePaul led by as many as 19 points in the second half with Smith pulling down 14 rebounds to go with 16 points.

In the championship game, the Blue Demons opened the second half with a 15-1 run to increase a 35-32 halftime lead to a 76-57 victory. Smith turned in her third double-double in as many days with 24 points and 10 rebounds while Rubino added 17 and Quigley scored 14 points.

BIG EAST Preseason Picks: The league's 16 coaches slated the Blue Demons at No. 4 in the BIG EAST preseason poll. Rutgers was selected as the favorite with 11 first-place votes followed by Connecticut and Notre Dame. Senior forward Khara Smith was one of 12 players named to the league's All-BIG EAST preseason team. Rutgers' Cappie Pondexter was named the Preseason Player of the Year.

National Preseason Picks: The DePaul women's basketball team is picked among the nation's top 25 and senior forward Khara Smith has been named a preseason All-American in various preseason publications.

Smith was named a first team All-American by the College Basketball Preview and a second-teamer by Lindy's. She also picked up High Honorable Mention honors in Street and Smith's.

She is joined on the first team by Seimone Augustus of LSU, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, Sophia Young of Baylor and Ohio State's Jessica Davenport.

The Blue Demons are ranked 11th in the preseason top 25 by and 20th in Street and Smith's. Notice: In the women's basketball preview on, the DePaul program was cited on a number of occasions. Khara Smith was slotted as the nation's top rebounder by three of the four women's basketball experts and the DePaul-Connecticut game was selected as one of the top 10 games to watch this season. The Blue Demons and Huskies tangle at the DePaul Athletic Center on Jan. 28. Smith was also named one of the top five forwards in the country joining Baylor's Sophia Young, Candice Dupree of Temple, Tiffany Jackson of Texas and Michigan State's Liz Shimek.

DePaul Invitational Review: The Blue Demons started the season with two wins and the first-place DePaul Invitational plaque. DePaul knocked off Harvard and UNLV while Jenna Rubino was named the tourney's MVP. She was joined on the All-Tournament team by Allie Quigley and Khara Smith.

The Blue Demons started quickly against Harvard and never looked back in a 97-52 victory. Rubino led the way with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field as the Blue Demons scored the first 16 points of the game and opened the contest with a 25-2 run. When the dust settled, the Blue Demons won by a score of 97-52 with no player seeing more than 19 minutes of action.

DePaul won the title with an 88-72 decision against UNLV. Smith tallied her first double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds while Quigley dropped in a team-high 21 points against the Lady Rebels. Rubino added 17 points, five rebounds as the Blue Demons outscored UNLV, 54-37, in the second half after trailing by a score of 35-34 at halftime.

One of Two: Already ranked in the top 12 in 11 of 17 career statistical categories, senior forward Khara Smith could become just the second player in DePaul history with 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. Diana Vines was first Blue Demon to accomplish the feat as she totaled 2,504 points and 1,269 career rebounds - both school records. Smith is ranked fourth all-time with 1,797 points and is second with 1,091 rebounds as she looks to become DePaul's first three-time All-American.

Family Time: Siblings and teammates Erin and Rachael Carney are just one of 16 sets of sisters playing on the same NCAA Division I team this season. The only other BIG EAST sister duo is in Cincinnati where Anne and Jill Stephens play for the Bearcats. Among the 16 sets of sisters playing on the same team, there are five sets of twins. Fairleigh Dickinson and Liberty go one step further as each features a set of triplets.

Streaking: Dating back to last season and in some cases, the last couple of seasons, the Blue Demons have put together various streaks. Listed below are some current active streaks heading into the UW-Green Bay game on Saturday:

- 28 consecutive wins at home

- 43 straight victories at home against unranked opponents

- 21 consecutive home wins against conference programs

- 14 straight wins against opponents from Illinois and 28 of the last 29

- six consecutive regular-season tournament championships

Home Cookin': In five-plus seasons, the DePaul Athletic Center has proven itself as one of the toughest venues in the nation. The Blue Demons have posted a 65-8 record in the arena's first 73 games. In their 32nd season, the Blue Demons have an all-time home court record of 309-88 (.778). Over 26 seasons at Alumni Hall, the women's basketball program won over 75 percent of their games with a 242-80 all-time record. At the Allstate Arena, the women's program has posted an all-time record of 20-4.

In 30-plus seasons of women's basketball at DePaul University there have been 13 streaks of at least 10 straight home victories. The longest streak is the current 28-game run that started on Dec. 19, 2003 with a 99-63 win over Alabama State. The victory over Houston on Feb. 11 broke the former record of 20 games from Feb. 4, 1978-Feb. 19, 1979.

Over the last three-plus years, the team is 44-1 at home with the lone loss coming in overtime to then-No. 2 Tennessee on Dec. 17, 2003. Maybe more impressive is that the Blue Demons average margin of victory during the run is 26.7 points per game.

The current 28-game winning streak is just the fourth home streak in school history of at least 15 games and is second in the nation among current home-floor winning streaks behind Western Illinois' 42-game home winning streak.

The Blue Demons have also posted 43 straight home victories over unranked opponents. During the 43-game streak over unranked opponents, there have been 40 victories at the DePaul Athletic Center and two wins at the Allstate Arena. Tulane handed DePaul their last home loss to an unranked team on Mar. 2, 2002, with a 88-83 decision in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament.

Taking Advantage From Beyond the Arc: Since the start of the 2001-02 season, the club has knocked down 967 trifectas compared to just 488 for the opposition. Over the last six years, the team has totaled at least 200 three-pointers in each season. With a 0-for-8 showing against Houston on Feb. 11, 2005, DePaul's streak of games with a three-pointer ended at 259 games. At the time, it was the nation's seventh-longest active streak.

In 10 games this season, the Blue Demons have outscored their opponents by 78 points from three-point range (7.8 ppg). DePaul is 64-191 (.335) from behind the arc while opponents are a combined 38-135 (.303). The squad averages 6.4 three's per game while the opposition makes 3.8 treys per contest.

At the Rainbow Wahine Classic, the Blue Demons used the experimental three-point distance of 20'6". The team posted a combined .306 percentage from behind the extended arc on 15-of-49 shooting in the three games.

Giving to Charity: Over the last five seasons, DePaul finished either first or second in the league rankings in free throw percentage. A year ago, the Blue Demons were first with a .735 percentage from the line preceded by a second-place finish in 2003-04 with a .724 team mark. The squad finished the 2002-03 campaign ranked second with a .718 season percentage and claimed the top spot in 2001-02 with a .738 percentage.

Over the first eight games, the Blue Demons were off to a slow start at the line with a team percentage of .641 (84-131). In the last two games, the team has combined to go 29-for-32 (.906) from the line. DePaul posted a combined free throw percentage of .875 against UW-Green Bay with a 14-of-16 team effort. They followed that up by making their first 15 attempts against Northern Illinois before finishing with a 15-of-16 effort. Overall, the Blue Demons are 113-of-163 (.693) from the line.

TV Time: As always, the DePaul women's basketball program will be featured multiple times on national television. The Blue Demons are scheduled to make a minimum of six appearances this season. DePaul plays twice on the ESPN network in BIG EAST games against Louisville on Jan. 25 and Notre Dame on Feb. 12. The Blue Demons are also scheduled for a pair of games televised by CSTV against Pittsburgh on Jan. 3 and at Notre Dame on Jan. 17.

The BIG EAST TV Network comes to the DePaul Athletic Center on Jan. 14 for the Villanova game. ComcastSportsNet Chicago is scheduled to pick up that game in the Chicagoland area. The BIG EAST Tournament features the quarterfinals on CSTV, semifinals on ESPNU and the championship game on ESPN2.

DePaul is no stranger to the cameras as 25 games in the last three seasons have been televised.

Season-Opening Notes: In the 32nd season of women's basketball at DePaul University, the Blue Demons are 24-8 all-time in the first game. This season, they cruised by Harvard, 97-52, in the first game of the DePaul Invitational at the DePaul Athletic Center. The 45-point margin of victory was the second-highest season-opening advantage in school history. In DePaul's first game in 1974, the Blue Demons posted a 62-17 win over Mundelein. Head coach Doug Bruno is 15-5 in the season-opener at DePaul. The Blue Demons have won five straight first games after dropping three in-a-row from 1998-00.

Smith Named to Wooden and Wade Lists: Khara Smith was named to both the Wade Trophy and Wooden Award preseason lists for National Player of the Year honors. In each of the last two seasons, she has been one of 16 finalists for the Wooden Award.

The State Farm Wade Trophy preseason list is made up of 25 student-athletes that are selected by a national awards committee of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball administrators. The selections are based on the criteria of game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 29th year and named after the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade, debuted in 1978 as the first women's national player of the year award in college basketball. This most prestigious award, regarded as "The Heisman of Women's Basketball", is organized by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), in conjunction with the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

Smith is one of three players on this season's preseason Wooden Award list that is a two-time finalist. Joining Smith on the short list is LSU's Seimone Augustus and Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers.

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his/her university the he/she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 grade point average. Previous winners include such notables as Michael Jordan ('84), Larry Bird ('79), Tim Duncan ('97) and last year's recipient, Seimone Augustus ('05).

These Top 30 candidates (all returning players) were selected by a national poll conducted by the National Advisory Board. Transfers and freshmen as well as other players who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 List and the final national ballot.

March Madness in Chicago: DePaul University and the Allstate Arena are one of eight hosts for the First and Second Rounds of the 2006 NCAA Women's Championship. The Chicago site is schedule for first round games on Saturday, March 18 followed by a pair of second round games on Monday, March 20.

The Allstate Arena was the site of the Men's Chicago Regional last season that saw Illinois advance to the Final Four with wins over UW-Milwaukee and Arizona. The facility also served host to the 1996 Women's Sweet Sixteen.

DePaul holds a 20-4 all-time record at the Allstate Arena and have won their last eight games there including a 102-57 win over Southern Illinois in December 2003. The DePaul men's program plays their entire home schedule at the arena located in Rosemont, Ill.

Looking Forward: DePaul signed four players to a National Letter of Intent in November. Felicia Chester, China Threatt, Kayla Guidry and Samantha Quigley join the program next fall as freshmen and hail from Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri.

Chester, nationally ranked among the top players at her position, averaged 12.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 3.0 blocks per game as a junior. She picked up second team All-State honors after leading Incarnate Word Academy to the state finals. The Red Knights finished third in the state with a 28-3 record. The 6'2" forward enters her senior season as the school's all-time shot blocker and picked up second team All-Metro honors from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a junior. The All Star Girls Report ranks the forward at No. 107 in the country and the 25th-ranked player at her position.

Guidry averaged 15 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a junior for the Peabody Warhorses. The 5'8" guard earned first team All-District honors and was named the Rapides Parrish Most Valuable Player. She also was named the KLAX Athlete of the Week and played on Junior Olympic state and national teams.

The second Quigley in three years to sign a National Letter of Intent at DePaul, Samantha joins her sister, Allie, next season in Lincoln Park. A three-sport standout in volleyball, basketball and softball, she averaged 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals as a junior at Joliet Catholic Academy. Quigley earned third team All-State honors from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and first team All-Area honors from the Joliet Herald-News. Entering her senior season, she holds career averages of 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

Threatt (pronounced Threett) finished third in the voting for Michigan Miss Basketball. She is the third Michigan product to join the program in the last three seasons with the Carney sisters, Rachael and Erin, playing currently at DePaul. Prior to an injury this season, the versatile 5'8" guard was averaging 15.0 points per game. Ranked as the state's No. 6 player by the Detroit Free Press, she led Auburn Hills Avondale to the No. 1 ranking in the state.

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