17th Ranked DePaul Triumphs In Season Opener

CHICAGO - What is 40 minutes over the course of two years? Not much by conventional standards. But for DePaul transfer Jen Juergens it was a chance to get back on the basketball court and do what she does best.

Juergens' double double of 12 points and 10 rebounds helped the #17 Demons hold off the Central Michigan Chippewas 86-76 Friday night at McGrath Arena.

"I was just excited to get out there and play," Juergens said. "I have been practicing for the last couple of years and getting ready for this. It is nice to get back into game situations and competing on the floor."

She led four DePaul players in double figures as DePaul matched the Chippewas (0-1) blow for blow for those 40 minutes.

Despite 11 first half points from Deirdre Naughton and the Demons holding Central Michigan scoreless for 6:00 in the first half, DePaul led only 41-37 at the break as Central Michigan shot 46% from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes.

A jumper by DePaul's Keisha Hampton gave the Demons a 71-58 lead with 7:56 to play in the contest. Hampton's double double of 23 points and 11 rebounds was countered by the Chippewas' Shondra Long's 30 points. Long's 3-pointer with 4:17 remaining cut the DePaul lead to 78-72. DePaul went 6-6 from the free throw line in the final 1:35 to seal the win.

"I think we just picked up the intensity [in the second half] and that is what was key for us, getting our energy up," Juergens said. "In the first half we got into a little lull where we started strong and then got into this little funk where we weren't going as hard, but I think we came out in the second half real strong. It is the energy and intensity that pushes us."

Naughton proved to be an emotional spark for her team, recovering from a first half bloody nose and a second half right knee injury to score 19 points, grab eight rebounds and hand out five assists.

"I am really starting to see a very mentally and physically tough basketball team," DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said. "All of our players are tough. I love the grit of this basketball team."

DePaul (1-0, 0-0 Big East) continues its weekend calendar this Sunday night at McGrath Arena against North Dakota State starting at 6:00 p.m CST.

Notes: DePaul is now 20-4 in season openers on their home floor...Naughton needs one more point to become DePaul's 23rd 1,000 point scorer...Sam Quigley needs six points to reach the 500 point mark.

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