Prior to their game Wednesday night, both DePaul and Creighton’s women’s basketball teams were exactly where they were supposed to be according to the preseason Big East coaches’ poll – tied for first place in the conference. Once the game was finished, however, DePaul had secured the sole first place title of the Big East for themselves.
The no. 23/21 Blue Demons (12-4) beat the Creighton Bluejays (9-5) 79-65 in a game in which DePaul led for almost the entirety of the game. The seniors, guard Brooke Schulte and forward Jacqui Grant, both led the team in the absence of fellow senior guard Jess January, who had surgery on her **** a day earlier.
“We really, really feel for those players that are missing,” Coach Doug Bruno said.” “It’s really tough to suffer injuries, (. . .) at the same time I’m really proud that the players are adopting our attitude of ‘no excuses’.”
Senior guard Brooke Schulte led the team in scoring with a career-high 30 points and this marked her third game in a row scoring over 20 points. In her past eight games, Schulte has averaged almost 20 points, a massive improvement from the first eight games of the season in which she averaged 7.3 points-per-game.
I definitely think I’ve become more aggressive, but I owe it to my teammates for getting me the ball,” Schulte said. “They do a phenomenal job of hitting me when I’m open.”
Senior forward Jacqui Grant had her fifth double-double of the season and scored 15 points and recovered 12 rebounds.
“With all this adversity, I think everyone is stepping up,” Grant said. “I think I’ve been stepping up and (. . .) and so what I’ve been trying to focus on is rebounding for sure, finishing and focusing on the basket.”
DePaul was able to stay in the game early in the first quarter when shots weren’t falling their way due to their stellar rebounding and early steals by Schulte and sophomore guard Amarah Coleman.
The Bluejays managed to put up a six-point lead at 6:24 in the first, but DePaul would rally and lead the rest of the game.
The stellar defense of the Blue Demons held Creighton forward Brianna Rollerson to only two points yet, on Monday, Rollerson scored 22 points in the Bluejays’ win over Marquette.
“A lot of people had to step up and own their own matchup tonight, and I thought Brooke (Schulte) did a good job,” Bruno said.
At the break, DePaul lead 41-31 and Schulte had only 12 of the 30 she would finish the game with.
Junior guard Lauren Prochaska and freshman guard Kelly Campbell started in place of the injured junior guard Ashton Millender and January. Despite Prochaska’s one-for-nine shooting from beyond the arc, she scored a career-high seven points and Campbell brought down six rebounds and recorded three assists.
Freshman forward Chante Stonewall put up a career-high 11 points and was three-for-four on three-point shots.
DePaul managed to score on long, drawn out possessions due to offensive rebounds. Schulte’s two free throws came after a possession with two Blue Demon offensive rebounds. Later Schulte laid a missed three-point shot by Prochaska up, finishing yet another two offensive rebound possession.
Grant and junior guard Tanita Allen led DePaul with seven and four offensive rebounds respectively.
After a domineering fourth quarter and second half, DePaul finished the game 79-65.
“We knew that we didn’t bring our all for Providence,” Schulte said. “Creighton, we knew they were a phenomenal team (. . .) and we knew they were going to be a hand full. (. . .) I think we had an extra edge on tonight and just came out ready to play and pick each other up.”
The Blue Demons continue conference play Sunday when they play Seton Hall (8-6 overall, 1-2 Big East).