The DePaul women’s basketball exhibition opener went as well as head coach Doug Bruno could have hoped Tuesday night as they rolled out to a 135-64 victory.
In the last three seasons, the Blue Demons average margin of victory against the visiting Saint Xavier Cougars was 35 points. Even without the talented Brittany Hrynko, who led the 2014-15 Blue Demons offensively, DePaul still crushed the visitors.
DePaul came out in a stifling full-court press that forced 12 turnovers and a 34-17 first quarter lead. Also in the opening quarter, the Blue Demons shot an impressive 50 percent, with all five starters netting at least six points.
Sophomore Mart’e Grays was a focal point of DePaul’s offensive attack early on, leading the team with 18 shots throughout the game. She’s one of the players Bruno is considering to put in the starting line-up.
The domination continued as DePaul bullied Saint Xavier into a 58-19 lead in the second quarter. The run included a three-minute stretch where DePaul outscored the Cougars 19-0 in the span of three minutes.
DePaul’s defense matched the offensive in excellence, allowing only four first half assists. When the Cougars scored, it was almost always off of a quick, covered shot.
Bruno’s Blue Demons left their signature stamp on the first half, leading 79-28 on the back of a 17-2 assist-to-turnover ratio and hitting two-thirds of their shots.
It’s tough to stay focused in a blowout, by Senior Chanise Jenkins credits the coaching staff with keeping the team energized.
“Win every possession,” Jenkins said. “That’s our team goal, overall we did a great job valuing the possession.”
Jenkins and the rest of the starting line-up saw plenty of action in the third quarter, advancing the lead by 14 points. Understandably, the starters didn’t see the court in the fourth quarter. Strong efforts from Brandi Harvey-Carr and Ashton Millender helped the Blue Demons win the fourth quarter 27-21.
DePaul put up a massive offensive output, beating the Cougars 135-64.
Throughout the slugfest, DePaul’s most impressive statistic was two. Saint Xavier only made it to the free throw line twice throughout the entire game, a nearly impossible feat to pull off while applying the high intensity pressure of a full court press.
It was only an exhibition game, so the glamorized scrimmage won’t have any impact on DePaul’s season. Bruno did use the experience to experiment with potential line-ups that will attempt to replace Brittany Hrynko.
“We’re still trying to put this all together,” Bruno said. “Thanks to the effort we put forth early, I got to work on a small line-up, and I got to work on a big line-up.”
Building chemistry every year is a difficult task for Bruno and his staff. Games like this, although they may read as useless in the box score, are pivotal to creating an elite team. Filling Hrynko’s void is a challenging task, and we have yet to see how it will be accomplished by DePaul.
“I still don’t know who’s gonna start,” Bruno said.