Sunday, November 13, 2016

Despite winning the Maggie Dixon Classic, No. 21 DePaul's identity still a work in progress

                              Photo Credit: DePaul Athletics

Greatness never builds overnight.

If it were easy, then everyone would do it and for the No. 21 DePaul Blue Demons, Saturday night proved to be another lesson in building a template for another successful season.

Despite a 90-80 win over former Conference USA opponent UAB (1-1), DePaul (2-0) managed to allow 36 points in the paint.

"[UAB] got way too many easy layups and there was some questionable decision making on our end," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "You make a decision as a coach about pace and really wanted to be fast, but slow. We slowed the pace down intentionally because of putting different lineups out there, so we could rest the top players and that got us in trouble."

Jessica January finished with game highs in points (25) and assists (7), but focused more on UAB's run from 26 points back to cut it to seven in the fourth quarter.

"When UAB was making its second half run on us, everyone on the floor was taking ownership and the most important part was communicating and being vocal in terms of fixing our defensive possessions," January said.

The script appeared to follow Friday night's game vs Appalachian State as Ashton Millender's impact on offense was felt by scoring six of DePaul's first seven points.

Rattled, but not intimidated, the Blazers responded with by attacking the paint and using a series of passes and cutting players to the rim as they cut the deficit to 19-16 after 10 minutes.

UAB continued to break DePaul's press and score at will in the paint and stayed within range at 25-22 in the early stages of the second quarter.

The Blue Demons began to execute on offense and produced a 9-2 run in the process and led by double digits for the first time. The lead expanded to as many as 15 before going into the locker room with a 13-point advantage on the Blazers.

Millender and Brooke Schulte set the tone in the early portion of the third quarter with a three-point make each, which highlighted a 10-1 run over 3:55.

With the lead as high as 26 points with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter, UAB managed to cut the deficit to as low as seven under a minute left, before a Claire McMahon triple iced the game.

Looking Ahead:

DePaul hosts crosstown rival Northwestern on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

In the teams' last meeting on Dec. 19, 2015, Megan Podkowa poured in a career-high 27 points as DePaul knocked off Northwestern, 77-64 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

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