Last time the DePaul women lost to a ranked opponent, they followed it up with a convincing win at home. Against Illinois State, following the loss to No. 1 Connecticut on Wednesday, the result was no different.
The Blue Demons (6-2) welcomed the Red Birds (1-6) to McGrath-Phillips Arena and sent them back to Normal, Ill. with an 89-41 thumping.
“I appreciate…my players’ effort tonight,” coach Doug Bruno said. “They could’ve played down to their opponent and they didn’t.”
The game started out somewhat close with the first quarter ending at 26-16 in DePaul’s favor. The next three quarters, the Blue Demons outscored the Red Birds 63-25 in an absolutely dominating fashion. Though, Bruno doesn’t feel like the 48-point win was convincing enough.
“There’s a lot of things we need to fix,” Bruno said. “We didn’t finish well…we didn’t rebound well…we had trouble switching from man to zone. Illinois State gave us a lot of things to work on throughout the game.”
It’s understandable for Bruno to be critical of his team despite the substantial win. As a big basketball program, perfection is crucial throughout the season, especially when you go up against the best teams in the country multiple times throughout the season. Having already played No. 4 Baylor and lost and No. 1 Connecticut and lost, the pressure is on to grab a quality win against their next big opponent.
“Our players played in a big game on Wednesday, and because it was No. 1 UConn, it turns into an event. We’re going to play a really big game next Wednesday against Notre Dame,” Bruno said. “We really need to get ourselves together for this game against Notre Dame.”
One thing the Blue Demons can be happy about against the Red Birds is breaking two McGrath-Phillips Arena school records. With 4 minutes and 54 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, Meri Bennett-Swanson’s steal was the 40th turnover forced in the game, breaking the record set in 2014 against New Mexico – DePaul finished with 43. Additionally, Bennett-Swanson’s steal with just 16 seconds to go was the team’s 26th, breaking the record for most steals in a game set in 2003 against UW-Milwaukee.
Chanise Jenkins led the team with 17 points, her highest total of the season, and equaled her season-high of seven assists. She credits the coaching staff conditioning the team to the success of ‘DePaul Ball’ forcing turnovers and putting them in the position to grab steals.
“We’re conditioned to do that,” Jenkins said. “Coach (Bruno) and our conditioning coach make sure we’re well conditioned enough to be able to run and play the ‘DePaul Ball’ that we have and I think our team is really committed to keeping up our pace.”
The Blue Demons now embark on a four-game road trip against a trio ranked opponent starting with No. 3 Notre Dame on Dec. 9.