DePaul entered Friday’s game at 1-1, coming off one of the most memorable wins in recent seasons with a 111-108 win over the number 21 Oklahoma Sooners. This time they would battle a 0-1 Delaware State team in a less thrilling to watch 110-71 victory. DePaul erased any questions of a possible let down following the big Oklahoma win as the players listened to a coach Doug Bruno proverb.
“He always says don’t get too high from the highs and don’t get to low form the lows,” said Chante Stonewall, who finished with 14 points on 6-6 shooting.
In what would become a familiar sight, Ashton Millender opened the scoring with a corner three 25 seconds into the game. The Hornets would get their only lead of the game, 6-5, with 7:14 remaining in the opening quarter. It wouldn’t last long as DePaul ripped off a quick 11-0 run, including seven straight from Millender, to put DSU in their rearview mirror and they never looked back.
“We always say it’s a 0-0 game not matter how much we are up,” Millender said on playing with a sizable lead. “So, it’s just keeping up the energy and playing defense and working on the little things we want to work on as a team.”
The Demon’s kept pushing the lead, getting it up to 33-16 at the end of the first quarter. Mart’e Greys would hit the first three shots for the Demons, extending the lead with eight minutes left in the quarter. The second quarter would overall be less dominate than the first. DePaul would outscore Delaware State 24-21 in the quarter and went to the half up 57-37. The freshman would get the bigger chunk of the playing time this quarter; Dee Bekelja and Rachel McLimore got six minutes each, while Vinisha Sherrod had seven.
“It’s exiting to see what they do in practice and see it transfer over to the game,” said Stonewall. “The fact that they are playing hard and knocking down shots, that should be a boost in their confidence because we were all freshman at one point and we all had to go through the same thing.”
Ashton Millender would continue her hot first quarter shooting in the third, putting up nine points on 3-4 shooting from downtown. Millender would finish with a game high 27 points of a hyper efficient 10-12 shooting and 7-9 from deep. Millender kept in simple when describing her mentality when she gets in the zone.
“Just keep shooting,” Millender said.
Millender’s 27 was a career high, beating her previous best of 21 that was set against UAB last year and tied last game against Oklahoma.
Her hot shooting would help DePaul outscore the Hornets by 19 and take an 88-49 lead into tha final frame. The fourth quarter would be dedicated to the young players, each freshman playing the entire quarter. Preseason Big East freshman of the year Dee Bekelja lead the freshman with 14 in the game, while McLimore had 13 and Sherrod just 2 but a game high four steals.
“Dee is a really interesting player because she has great instincts to play basketball. Her and Rachel are both very competitive (…) I’m glad they were able to get some minutes tonight (…) and Vinisha also,” Bruno said. “Just to get them in the game and get them into some kind of flow was nice to be able to do for all three of those freshman.”
DePaul would coast to the finish line. Delaware State would finish the game with 30 turnovers and took just ten threes in the game, making one. The Hornets were lead by Najai Pollard, playing 32 minutes and getting 27 points. They earned 21 free throws, which Bruno said was still too many.
DePaul will play St. Luis in the Maggie Dixon Classic championship game on Saturday at 4:00. St. Louis beat Ole Miss 79- 64 in the first game of the tournament with five of their eight players getting in double figures.