Sunday, February 5, 2017

No. 17 DePaul 86, Seton Hall 60: Allen flourishes for the Blue Demons

                                                         Photo Credit: Geno Green

CHICAGO— The No. 17 DePaul Blue Demons (20-5, 12-1 Big East) have been decimated by injuries to Mart’e Grays, Jessica January and Ashton Millender this season, but other players have stepped up, such as Tanita Allen’s 19-point effort in a 86-60 win over the Seton Hall Pirates (11-13, 4-9 Big East) to complete the season sweep.

Allen’s career-high came in the first meeting at Seton Hall on Jan. 8 with 30 points and felt more at ease after making her first four field goals.

"I come out and play my best game and seem to always have it against Seton Hall," Allen said. "It all starts with practice as we do guard and post breakdown drills. Coach (Bruno) makes sure the contact is game-like, so it is more believable."

In an up and down season, Amarah Coleman put together a complete effort with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes.

DePaul's Brooke Schulte and Jacqui Grant continued to provide consistency with 22 points and 12 rebounds and 11 points and 14 rebounds, respectively for double-doubles.

Schulte's effort on the defensive end went under the radar as she drew the assignment of guarding Seton Hall's leading scorer JaQuan Jackson.

"Brooke was really special on offense today and I don't think a lot of people understand that we have asked her to guard the opponent's best player at the same time," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said.

DePaul's stifling defense gave Jackson fits in the first quarter as she went scoreless and held to 3-of-14 from the field and finished with 10 points.

"(JaQuan) is a very explosive player and go off for 30-40 points anytime," Bruno said. "We treated her with the same respect like some of the other great Seton Hall players in recent years, such as Tabitha Richardson-Smith. She can get into scoring streaks very quickly and we were able to contain it for the most part."

Turnovers proved to be Seton Hall's achilles heel with 21 as DePaul turned it into 24 points on the other end.

Outside of Schulte’s four points in the first 5:44, the other Blue Demon players struggled to find a groove as they went a combined 1-of-10 from the field, until a conventional three-point play from Allen snapped the drought.

The wheels began to turn as DePaul went on an 18-2 run over a 4:47 stretch as it went into the second quarter with a 22-10 lead. DePaul held Jackson scoreless in the first ten minutes on 0-of-3 from the field.

The Blue Demons kept the pedal to the medal for the remainder of the first half behind 13 points off 10 Pirate turnovers to go into halftime with a 39-34 edge.

Seton Hall showed no quit at the start of the third quarter as Kaela Hilaire delivered a precision pass to a cutting Claire Lundberg to pull within three points. With every Seton Hall surge came a DePaul response and another run at 15-2 pushed the lead to 54-38 at the 6:16 mark.

The Blue Demons’ lead expanded to as many as 22 points in the third quarter and stayed ahead the rest of the way to their 14th win in the last 15 games.

DePaul Injury Updates:

Bruno announced that Jessica January will have the cast removed from her surgically repaired broken right index finger on Feb. 14 or 15. January could come back as early as the Marquette game on Feb, 19, but hinges on the prognosis of the injury.

No timetable has been determined on Ashton Millender’s return to action (ankle). Millender could participate in selected non-contact drills next week.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams return to action on Feb. 10, the Blue Demons travel to Cincinnati to take on the Xavier Musketeers, while the Pirates host the Georgetown Hoyas. Both games tip off at 6 p.m. and can be seen on the Big East Digital Network and the Fox Sports Go App.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.