DePaul women’s basketball cruises to 105-61 win over Southern Illinois

DePaul women’s basketball head coach Doug Bruno was admittedly a little nervous heading into DePaul’s season opener with Southern Illinois. After all, the Salukis were coming off a 17-win season and had an entire offseason to prepare for this game.

“You don’t know what to expect for an opening game,” he said. “You never know what you have until the real games start.”

It turns out his worries were all for naught as the season opener for DePaul (1-0) went as well as they could have hoped for. They rolled through Southern Illinois (0-1) 105-61.

Senior forward Megan Podkowa led the scoring with 17 points. Five Blue Demons were in double digits and everyone on the team saw minutes. Sophomore forward Mart’e Grays and junior guard Brooke Schulte both continued to be in the starting lineup from the exhibitions. Grays put up 16 points and was seven-for-eight from the field.

“Being a starter this year I feel I’ve adjusted well,” she said. “I just have to stay focused.”

DePaul was cold from beyond the arc to start off the game, going 0-4, but they were still able to jump out to a 14-6 lead through good transition offense. They were also forcing turnovers as they Salukis gave up the ball six times in the first quarter, which gave DePaul turned into seven points.

Podkowa reached a milestone in the first half when she became the 33rd DePaul women’s basketball player to record 1000 points in her career.

“Obviously it’s cool but I wasn’t really thinking about it,” she said. “It’s a good feeling but I’m glad we got the win.”

At the half, DePaul led 53-35.

The second half went similar to the first with DePaul forcing turnovers and turning those into baskets. The Salukis turned the ball over 23 times over the course of the game, which turned into 30 points for DePaul. They cruised through the second half to win with a final score of 105-61.

This was the first game of the preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament, a 16-team tournament that has both a winners and consolation bracket. The Blue Demons advanced in the winners bracket and guaranteed themselves at least two more games where they could end up playing four.

“It is a much bigger tournament than normal because we’re playing in a national tournament,” Bruno said. “It’s one-and-out basketball, a prelude to postseason. There’s eight teams left and we’re going to try and get to the final four (of the WNIT). We’re practicing for one-and-out basketball.”

DePaul will play St. Bonaventure Sunday at 4 p.m. at McGrath-Phillips Arena in the quarterfinals. Their next location and opponent will be known after the game but it will either be Indiana or Chattanooga if they win.