Megan Podkowa scored 24 and was 11-15 from the field as she led the No. 18 Blue Demons to an 84-62 win over South Dakota State.
“I think the guards did a really good job of getting me the ball inside,” Podkowa said. “I was shooting a higher percentage of shots that I could make, like I wasn’t shooting threes or harder shots, I was inside and closer to the basket.”
Head coach Doug Bruno was pleased with the way the team was able to stay tough after playing five games in nine days.
“It looks like it was an easy game when you look at the score but it wasn’t an easy game,” Bruno said. “I’m really proud of the players, that they’ve done a good job bouncing back after the tough game against Texas A&M.”
The Blue Demons forced 34 turnovers against the Jackrabbits and turned those into 39 points. Brittany Hrynko, who had three steals, said it’s part of the high-pressure defense that the Blue Demons are used to running.
“We’re just used to running all over the court, we’re kind of lucky getting in from behind when they get past us,” Hrynko said. “So I guess it’s just us practicing it throughout the year.”
Podkowa was the biggest force of offense for the Blue Demons to start out. She scored the first 10 points for DePaul and the first eight points of the game. DePaul went up 8-0 before the Jackrabbits went on an 8-0 run of their own to tie it going into the first media timeout of the half.
The Blue Demons took the lead back following the timeout and continued to push their lead open. Going into the next media timeout, the Blue Demons took a 23-12 lead with Brooke Schulte contributing seven points.
South Dakota State would cut the deficit over the next few minutes, shredding the lead down to 24-19 before the Blue Demons called a timeout. DePaul would take the game back over after the timeout, closing out the half with a 39-29 advantage. Podkowa had 12 points to lead the Blue Demons while Megan Waytashek had 16 for South Dakota State.
The two teams traded buckets to start the second half with DePaul maintaining a 50-38 lead at the first media timeout. The Blue Demons started to extend their lead as the minutes ticked down, getting all the way up to a 57-40 lead with 13:44 to go.
DePaul continued to control the game from there on out, steadily increasing their lead. They were able to go up by as much 30 points with 5:03 to go after a Mart’e Grays 3-pointer but ended up settling for a victory margin of 84-62.
The Blue Demons improved to 4-1 with the win and have now won four in a row after their season-opening loss to No. 5 Texas A&M.
DePaul was without junior guard Chanise Jenkins, who left Tuesday’s game against Bradley with a leg injury. According to Bruno, this injury forced him to tighten up the rotations for this game.
“One of the reasons I didn’t want to start Centrese (McGee) is because she’s given us great energy off the bench,” he said. “Once she starts, we don’t that coming off the bench.”
McGee had six points and five rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Sophomore guard Brooke Schulte became the first one off the bench with McGee starting and contributed nine points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes.