DePaul advances to second round of the NCAA Tournament with win over Oklahoma


DePaul limited LaNesia Williams (left) to 1-of-9 shooting and two points in the Blue Demons win over the Sooners. David J. Phillip | AP

The name of the game in March is win and advance and that’s exactly what No. 23 DePaul (27-7) did with a 90-79 win over Oklahoma to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in College Station, Texas Friday afternoon.

DePaul will face fourth seeded Texas A&M who beat Drake 89-76 in the second game of the afternoon. The Aggies are the hosts of this weekend’s games.

The Blue Demons started the game firing on all cylinders hitting eight of their first 12 three pointers to open up a 36-24 lead with 6:23 remaining in the second quarter. Ashton Millender led this charge with 12 of her 16 points coming early in the game as she started 5-of-6 from the field. The Sooners would close the gap, however, limiting the Blue Demons to just six points the rest of the second quarter as they entered the half trailing by 10.

Coleman was also problematic for the Sooners with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in the first half as she played a complete first half. The senior guard struggled in the second half, however, picking up two fouls in 12 seconds late in the third quarter before fouling out with 9:05 to play in the game. The senior finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Although the Blue Demons led for most of the game, they certainly overcame some challenges with senior Lauren Prochaska picking up three fouls in the first quarter, and Mart’e Grays picking up two as well. At one point late in the third quarter Grays, Prochaska and Coleman were all sidelined with four fouls as the Blue Demons continued to fend off the Sooners who edged closer within seven entering the fourth quarter.

Friday featured a well balanced attack from coach Doug Bruno’s squad as they finished with five players in double figures, led by Kelly Campbell and Coleman with 17. Grays and Millender each had 16 points, while Chante Stonewall was solid with 12 points, seven rebounds and a career-high six assists.

Sharing the ball and shooting is one of the key principles to “DePaul Ball” and the Blue Demons did just that with 26 assists on 30 made field goals, a key reason they were able to shoot over 51 percent from the field.

In the Blue Demon’s first matchup with Oklahoma on Nov. 13, Sooner senior Vionise Pierre-Louis was a matchup problem for DePaul finishing with 25 points and 16 rebounds. In this one, however, the pace of the game appeared to bother her and she was limited to just 21 points and six rebounds, but struggled defensively and played just 24 minutes, as opposed to 36 in the first game. The Blue Demons also did a good job on senior Maddie Manning who was limited to just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.

DePaul has now won seven in a row and 13 of their last 14. They will look to extend this streak and advanced to their second Sweet 16 in three years with a win on Sunday.