The No. 16 Blue Demons (6-2) beat the Prairie View A&M (4-5) 64-62 in their annual field trip day game. The team was lifted by the strong play of senior forward Jacqui Grant and junior guard Ashton Millender.
DePaul wanted to get an early start against the Panthers and Millender made that happen by scoring the first five points of the game for DePaul. She and Grant both finished the day with 15 points apiece.
“It was really important that our players were ready to play today and come out with a high level of energy,” coach Doug Bruno said. “I really believe our players did a good job of coming out of the block. We have not played well all year, and we’ve had
DePaul continued to dominate the first and took an early 14-4 lead in the game after freshman guard Ashton Millender scored an open three-point shot followed by a steal and basket off the Panthers’ inbound pass by senior guard Jessica January.
Grant’s 15 points was the sixth time of the last seven games she scored over 10 points for the team. She credited the encouragement of Bruno and the team as key factors in her newfound scoring confidence.
“I’ve tried to, kind of, widen my scoring methods,” Grant said. I want to be able to go inside, go outside and be effective, and I think with coach be have the greenest green light. He’s not someone who will get on you for missing shots as you’re open and it’s a good shot. (. . .) That, I think, has given me more confidence in myself.”
Bruno stressed the importance of consistency from the entire team and urged the team to “Make simple plays” late in the game when the third unit was trying to rush the offense.
“(The play) has got to be multidimensional,” Bruno said. “(. . .) We need everybody to start playing ball together. I thought today today was a good step in the right direction.
Late in the game, Prairie State went on a 12-2 to bring the game to within 32 points after DePaul lead by as much as 44 points late in the third quarter.
Junior guard Tanita Allen finished the game with a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Bruno believes Allen is one of the top eight players on the team, but she’s had a slow start to the year because of her preseason injury. She’s only participated in 10 practices, but Bruno believes she will soon be “basketball fit” and 100 percent for the Big East.
The Blue Demons will conclude a tough two weeks when they play No. 1 ranked Notre Dame at McGrath-Phillips Arena Saturday at 7:00 p.m.