DePaul women’s basketball non-conference schedule released


Alexa Sandler / The DePaulia

DePaul freshmen Lexi Held and junior Chante Stonewall celebrate after Stonewall scored a crucial basket for the Blue Demons in the Big Tournament title game on March 13.

The DePaul women’s basketball team released its non-conference schedule Tuesday and, while there are familiar opponents on the schedule – most notably Notre Dame and Connecticut – the Blue Demons will participate in two tournaments, which will pit them against teams they rarely face.

DePaul begins their season with the Preseason WNIT when they host Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 8 at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The Blue Demons will then host either Drexel or Davidson in the second round on Nov. 11. If the Blue Demons are able to win both of those games, then they will play in the semifinals on Nov. 14 and, if they can get past that game, they will play in the final on Nov. 17. 

The WNIT features a 16-team field with a dozen programs that played in the postseason last year. The tournament features two teams who made the NCAA Sweet 16 last season, Oregon State (24-7) and Missouri State (25-10, who beat DePaul in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. 

Challenging our team every year by playing a very demanding non-conference schedule is a major and vital component of our DePaulBall culture,” head coach Doug Bruno said in a statement. “Jumping right into the Preseason WNIT gives us the opportunity to play one-and-out basketball right out of the gate.

“Opening the season playing WNIT qualifier Miami (Ohio) followed by Drexel or Davidson, we will be challenged immediately.”

Following the WNIT, DePaul will then host the Maggie Dixon Classic at McGrath-Phillips Arena on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23. Going along with DePaul, Arkansas State (12-18), Miami, Fla. (25-9) and North Carolina A&T (20-12) will also participate in the tournament. 

The Blue Demons will face Arkansas State in the first round on Nov. 22, then will either play in the third place game or in the championship game the following day. 

Following the Maggie Dixon Classic, DePaul will host Milwaukee (15-15) on Nov. 26 at McGrath-Phillips Arena. But after that game, the Blue Demons will embark on a three-game road trip. 

The first game during the road stretch will see Bruno’s team take on Northwestern (21-15) on Dec. 1. The Blue Demons hosted the Wildcats last season and saw DePaul defeat their Big Ten rivals 76-60. Following that game, DePaul will travel up north to face Green Bay (22-10), another team the Blue Demons defeated, 73-64, last season in Chicago. 

But the toughest test for Bruno and his team will come when they visit NCAA Tournament runner-up Notre Dame (35-4) on Dec. 11. 

“Our schedule is always full of Top 25 opponents with Connecticut, Notre Dame and potential tournament matchups with Oregon State, Oklahoma, Missouri State and Miami demonstrating the degree of difficulty,” Bruno said on Tuesday. “Local Big Ten rival Northwestern, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Loyola Chicago are all excellent programs.”

The Blue Demons then return home by taking on Alabama State (11-19) on Dec. 14, and two days later go up against NCAA Final Four national power Connecticut (35-3) at Wintrust Arena.

Before DePaul begins Big East play, the Blue Demons will play their final non-conference game on Dec. 20 against rival Loyola (13-18). 

DePaul will be going into the 2019-2020 season as the reigning Big East Tournament champions, a tournament the Blue Demons have won four times in the last six seasons, after defeating Marquette 74-73 in the championship game March 12 at Wintrust Arena. 

As a result, DePaul qualified for its 17th-straight NCAA Tournament, a feat that only four other schools have accomplished. But, unlike in previous seasons, their appearance in the 2019 NCAA Tournament was short lived as DePaul fell in the first round to Missouri State 89-78. 

Going into this season, however, DePaul will look to improve on their 26-8 overall record from last year and will go into the conference season hoping to win the Big East regular season title for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. 

“The BIG EAST has evolved into one of the best conferences in the country,” Bruno said. “This year’s non-conference schedule should have us ready to take on that Big East challenge.”