DePaul races past Georgetown into Big East Tournament championship game


Kelly Campbell finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Georgetown.(Photo Courtesy of DePaul Athletics)

In all sports, especially basketball, when a team is hot, they are hot.

That was the case Monday night for DePaul (25-7; 15-3 Big East) as they cruised over the Georgetown Hoyas (15-15; 9-9 Big East) 85-53 in the Big East Tournament semifinals to extend their winning streak to five games and advance to the title game for the fourth time in the last five years.

The Blue Demons effectively controlled the glass on both ends of the floor and pulled down 51 total rebounds to 33 total rebounds for the Hoyas. Namely, the Blue Demons took away second chance opportunities by limiting their offensive rebounds to nine, a big accomplishment given the fact that the Hoyas ranked second in conference play in offensive rebound percentage.

In the first half alone, the Blue Demons only allowed the Hoyas to get two offensive rebounds and by halftime the Blue Demons led the total rebounding category 27-14. In fact, at that point they led the offensive rebounding category 10-2 in route to scoring seven second chance points, and finished with 11 for the game.

“Offensive rebounding has been huge for us this year,” sophomore guard Kelly Campbell said. “I think just getting those easy baskets on put backs really helped us get in a good flow.”

Campbell tallied four offensive rebounds, including 11 total rebounds and put up 11 points on an efficient five-of-seven shooting to record a double-double.

Rebounding was a critical element for the Blue Demons to both score points in the paint, 44 of them, and be able to play full court transition basketball on the offensive end. That being the case, the Blue Demons wore out the Hoyas early on and got whatever looks they wanted and finished shooting 48.5 percent from the field in the game. The Blue Demons also finished with 18 assists and nine forced turnovers.

“Once the game started, I think after the fourth or fifth possession, we had no legs,” Hoyas first year head coach James Brown said. “We just wasn’t there from a physical standpoint, and DePaul really did a great job pushing tempo.”

Additionally, Brown attributed the success of the Blue Demons’ full court transition offense to DePaul head coach Doug Bruno. “They’re very good for a reason, because they’re coached by a very good coach,” Brown said. “When you have a coach like that, that can get players that fit a system, (there’s) not anything you can do,” Brown said.

Redshirt junior guard Ashton Millender came out ready to play and scored eight of her 15 points in the first quarter by pouring in two 3-point field goals. Furthermore, Millender grabbed five rebounds.

Senior guard Amarah Coleman, after leaving Sunday night’s game in the fourth quarter after falling hard for a rebound, bounced back by pouring in 13 points, converting on four of her five free throw attempts, and hauling six total rebounds. Not to mention, sophomore guard Chante Stonewall scored 10 points and grabbed five total rebounds.

Bruno believes that having multiple offensive weapons played an integral role in his team’s success.

“It’s always great when everybody plays well,” Bruno said. “We have a team here that’s very versatile and we’ve really not hit on all cylinders yet where everybody’s playing well every night, so it was great to see Amarah have a really quality ball game and some of our other players as well. I mean, that’s kind of how this team is constructed itself, so it’s very versatile and it was just great to see Amarah playing well.”

On the defensive end, the Blue Demons played excellent man-to-man defense and made timely switches that halted the Hoyas from freely moving the ball and getting into the paint. Namely, the Blue Demons defense held the Hoyas to shoot an ice-cold 29.2 percent from the field on 19-of-65 shooting.

Perhaps the most notable effect of the Blue Demons’ defense was Stonewall’s and Mart’e Grays’ ability to shut down the Hoyas’ top offensive weapons in Dionna White and Cynthia Petke by holding them to shoot a combined 8-of-30 from the field with just 19 points. “Chante has more length, and so she did a very good job on White today,” Bruno said. “Mart’e (Grays) did a really good job on Petke.”

Accordingly, the Blue Demons’ defense was so on point they were leading 63-34 after three quarters, and Bruno cleared the bench in the fourth quarter for some of his reserves to get playing time. Deja Cage scored five points, including a 3-pointer from the right wing, and Dee Bekelja also knocked in a 3-pointer.

This victory means the Blue Demons and Marquette Golden Eagles (23-8; 15-3 Big East) will face off in the title game, a rematch of last season where Marquette won 86-78 in Milwaukee, WI. Tipoff is at 6 p.m CT.