Tuesday, March 6, 2018

DePaul dominates from start to finish in a 98-63 win over Marquette

Photo Credit: Geno Green

CHICAGO— The month of March focuses more on cinderella, but Tuesdays Marquette/DePaul title game showcased the titans of the Big East conference for the second straight season.

Things appeared to be on course for a heavyweight showdown, but the end result looked more like a Mike Tyson knockout as the No. 2-seeded DePaul Blue Demons (26-7) controlled the tempo from start to finish in a 98-63 win over the top-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles (23-9).

Balance was the name of the game for DePaul as five players finished in double figures scoring, highlighted by Amarah Colemans game-high 27, on 9-of-13 from the field. Colemans personal 7-0 run in a 1:19 span in the second quarter put DePaul up 43-26 as Marquette would not function the same way. 

Coleman struggled with shot selection and confidence going into the championship game, but channeled coach Doug Bruno's philosophy of shooting with confidence.

"I ran the offense and shot the ball depending on how Marquette's defense was playing," Coleman said. "I have had some rough games this season, but I made sure I shot with confidence tonight."

Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger gave credit to Coleman for making an impact on both sides of the ball.

"Amarah played like an All-American and she is so hard to guard," Kieger said. "She was hot and was hitting shots all over the place and played like she wanted to win tonight."

Despite not playing in last season's Big East tournament championship game with a torn ACL, Mart'e Grays looked in peak form and contributed with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes.

"It is all about the team. Last year is over and I was so excited to play in this tournament and be on the floor," Grays said. "Being here with my team celebrating this win means everything to me."

Big East Player of the Year Allazia Blockton came into the championship game with a team-high 19.1 points per game, but DePauls defense had other plans as the junior was held to eight points, on 4-of-11 from the field.

Cigar knows work will need to be done in order to erase Blockton's performance from memory with the NCAA tournament on the horizon.

"I'm not exactly sure to be honest," Kieger said. "That's a question we will have to figure out and will watch the film because she hit a couple of shots early and it is more about effort and confidence."

Despite the struggles, Bruno gave credit to Blockton for the ability to create problems on offense and being able to come up with a strategy to shut the junior down.

"Allazia is one of the most special players in our league," Bruno said. "Everyone knows that she wants to get to the rim and it is not that easy to keep her from getting to the rim. We tried to pack it in more, so that our first priority would be to prevent paint touches."

The beginning saw both teams go a combined 1-of-11 from the field. DePaul found its ways on offense as it bursted onto an 11-1 run to go ahead 11-3 in the early stages of the first quarter.

The Golden Eagles pulled to within three points, before the Blue Demons exercised their sixth man off the bench in Tanita Allen with five straight to regain the momentum at 18-10. The pace increased for the remainder of the quarter as DePaul remained ahead 22-17 after 10 minutes behind 47 percent shooting.

After a layup from Blockton to open the second quarter scoring, but #DePaulBall went in full effect as it went on a 12-2 run all on perimeter makes, highlighted by Ashton Millenders back-to-back makes, which forced Golden Eagles coach Carolyn Kieger to make adjustments.

Defense proved to be the best offense for DePaul back-to-back layups from Coleman off turnovers from Blockton highlighted a 16-3 run to end the first half with a 52-29 lead.

DePaul kept the pedal to the medal in the early stages of the third quarter as its transition offense continued to give Marquette problems as it stayed a step quicker as the lead grew to 62-34. Marquette would get no closer as DePauls lead grew to as many as 40 points.

Game Notes:

-       DePauls 98 points is the most by a winning team in Big East womens tournament history.

-       The 35-point margin is the fourth largest in Big East womens tournament history.

The Blue Demons finished with 27 assists on 38 field goals.

DePaul finished with a season-high 52 rebounds, which broke the previous high of 51 against Seton Hall on March 5.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams await their NCAA tournament fates as the 64-team field will be announced at 6 p.m. on March 12 on ESPN.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.