No. 23 DePaul women’s basketball cruises through Xavier 82-52

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No. 23 DePaul women’s basketball cruises through Xavier 82-52

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The DePaul women’s basketball team honored the late-North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow in the annual Play4Kay game in support of the fight against breast cancer when they hosted the second-place Xavier Musketeers to McGrath-Phillips Arena in one of the final regular season home games.

The No. 23 Blue Demons convincingly won 82-52 over the Musketeers and took one step closer to clinching the Big East title before the final weekend. Ashton Millender, off of the bench, led the way with 15 points.

“I knew it was going to be a good game when I banked a three off the backboard,” Millender said.

“Even though we got off to a slow start, I thought the energy was here to play basketball and I thought we got a great lift off the bench from Ashton,” coach Doug Bruno said. “She is a really good player who has been getting a lot of minutes…and she can score the basketball. It’s good to see Ashton get the points off the bench.”

DePaul went down early 7-0, but turned it around immediately and ended the first half on a 40-14 run to take a commanding 40-21 lead into halftime. The stifling defense prevented the Musketeers from scoring for nearly six minutes spanning from the first quarter into the second quarter and limited them to just four baskets over a 10-minute span.

“As crazy as it sounds, I thought their 7-0 run was a function of our bad offense,” Bruno said. “We were throwing the ball all over the gym and there was no (penetration play).”

“Once we got going offensively…when you defend well, you score well and when you score well, you defend well.”

Six of DePaul’s players were on the cusp of scoring double-digit points, including four of the five starters. The Blue Demons also out assisted the Musketeers 20-5, which shows how much of an all-around game the team had. No one player stood out more than the others and Bruno says it’s a testament to how deep his squad is.

“I’m constantly talking to our players about [depth]. We have two starters in Brooke Schulte and Jacqui Grant that we need consistent play out of and we have two sophomores in Ashton and Mart’e Grays first off the bench that we need more consistent play (out of). We need something from other people…that’s why we’re a really good basketball team – because we have players that are capable of doing what Ashton did tonight.”

Bruno rested all of his starters for the fourth quarter and gave some crucial playing time to his bench players in preparation for an important final stretch of the season. The Blue Demons could potentially clinch the Big East conference on Sunday against Butler, giving him the opportunity to save some of his team’s energy in anticipation of the Big East Tournament the first weekend of March.

Despite the appeal of resting starters for the final weekend, the Blue Demons will need to win out convincingly if they want any shot at hosting an NCAA Tournament game once March rolls around.