No. 13 DePaul Tops Missouri State

CHICAGO - DePaul knocked off Missouri State, 84-74, in the final regular-season non-conference game to post a perfect 13-0 record this season against non-BIG EAST foes. Khara Smith led four players in double-figures with 25 points and seven rebounds as the Blue Demons won their 30th straight home game.

The Blue Demons opened the scoring with five straight points in the first minute on an Allie Quigley three-pointer and jumper by Jenna Rubino. Tahnee Balerio kept Missouri State in the game with a pair of early three-pointers to cut the DePaul lead to 16-10 with 15:02 left in the first half.

Following Balerio's second three, DePaul went on an 11-2 run over the next four minutes capped by a pair of lay-ups under the basket by Khara and Caprice Smith for a 27-12 advantage.

Missouri State (5-3) held the Blue Demons scoreless for 3:21 while chipping away at the lead. The Lady Bears closed the deficit to five points before Rubino's lay-up ended the drought for the Blue Demons with 2:37 left until halftime. Missouri State cut the lead to five points on two more occasions before Khara and Caprice Smith hit the final two buckets of the half to give DePaul a 39-30 halftime lead.

The second period started with the two teams trading buckets and the home team holding a 49-39 advantage on a rebound and put back by Erin Carney with just over 15 minutes left in the game.

DePaul (13-1) opened up a 17-point lead with an 11-2 run to take a 62-45 lead. Caprice Smith hit two three-pointers during the flurry and also added a put back off a Jarietta Benton miss.

The lead grew as high as 20 points with a three-point play by Khara Smith at 75-55. Over the final five minutes, Missouri State outscored DePaul, 19-9, for the 84-74 final.

Khara Smith led all scorers with a season-high 25 points. The senior All-American knocked down 10-of-13 shots while grabbing seven rebounds and swiping four steals. Caprice Smith added 15 points and five boards off the bench while Rubino scored 13 and Quigley chipped in 10 points.

Balerio led Missouri State with 22 points while Kari Koch scored 12 points. Koch entered the game as the nation's second-leading scorer with an average of 24.3 points per game. The DePaul defense held her scoreless until a pair of free throws with 12:28 left in the second half.

The Blue Demons finished the game with a combined .492 percentage from the field while Missouri State shot .446. Each team went .500 from the field in the second half. DePaul held a large advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Lady Bears by a 45-25 margin.

DePaul opens the BIG EAST home schedule on Jan. 3 against Pittsburgh. The game is set for an 8 p.m. start at the DePaul Athletic Center and will be televised on CSTV.

Game Notes: DePaul won the 30th straight home game... the Blue Demons finished the non-conference schedule at 13-0... the 13-1 record matches the best start in school history set in 2003-04... the Blue Demons have scored at least 80 points in four of the last five games and nine times this season... in the last five-plus seasons (167 games), the team has scored at least 80 in 65 games... they are 62-3 in those games... Khara Smith's 25 points marked her 34th career game of at least 20 points... the game was the first meeting between the two programs... DePaul is 27-10 all-time against Missouri Valley teams.

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