Historic first quarter lifts DePaul in Maggie Dixon Classic


Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

The bench celebrates after a basket in the record setting 45-point first quarter.

All it took was a record-setting first quarter for No. 19 DePaul to drub Arkansas State. The first round of the Maggie Dixon Classic saw the Blue Demons looking for a move in the right direction after a 21 point loss to Oregon State on Nov. 14. And the first quarter was everything they could have wanted and more. A program-record 45 points in the opening quarter saw DePaul storm out to a 45-15 point lead, and they never looked back, winning with a final score of 109-64.

The first minute and a half of the game showed the pressure that DePaul can bring with their full-court press. A few quick turnovers lead to a flurry of layups and threes, which brought the Blue Demons out to a 21-4 lead.

Sophomore guard Jolene Daninger scored 14 in the first quarter to match her career-high for points in a game. Sophomore Sonya Morris scored nine in the first quarter as senior Kelly Campbell added eight. The three leading scorers hit a combined 9-for-10 from beyond the arc.

The press was everso successful, as the Blue Demons mustered six steals in the first period while only turning the ball over four times.

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia
Guard Deja Church driving to the basket after a shot fake in the first quarter, she finished with 12 points.

With the game just about out of hand for Arkansas State and DePaul up big, a few freshmen got minutes. Freshman Keke Rimmer scored 7 points while playing the entire quarter. Other first-year players Hannah Purcell, Kayla Caudle, Marisa Warren, and Nadege Jean also got out on the floor.

“It was good to get the freshman class on the floor and get them multiple minutes and get them a lot of minutes on the board and get them some experience,” head coach Doug Bruno said. “When you play the level of schedule that we play, there is a reason programs play cupcakes. When you play cupcakes you get to play your new players a lot of minutes.”

This lead to a different outcome in the second quarter, with the Blue Demons young players trying to reps in. DePaul cooled down on their shooting, with an 8-for-22 performance before the half. Nevertheless, the score was out of hand already, and the Blue Demons led 64-35 at the break.

One of the problems in the Blue Demons contest against No. 7 Oregon State was shooting. Even though the defense forced 20 turnovers, a 6-for-34 clip from three doomed them. Playing at home puts them in a more comfortable spot, with efficient shooting all throughout.


The third quarter saw the starters back in the game. Junior Deja Church added to an already successful game with seven points next to seven assists and five rebounds. Assists were coming from all around though, as the team assisted on 39 of 44 shots.

Junior Dee Bekelja had a team-high eight assists on the night, with Campbell adding five of her own. DePaul was up 91-49 after three quarters.

Yet leading the team in assists was just natural for the guard, who started in her first game of the year with sophomore Lexi Held out with a sprained ankle. “It wasn’t anything special I was just hitting the open women and they were knocking down the shots, specifically Jolene [Daninger],” Bekelja said.

Daninger would finish the night with 16 points, a new career-high. Daninger has come off the bench this year as a primary scorer on the team. Her first five shots fell including four three-pointers to add to the record in the first quarter.

“I had great teammates that are getting me the ball,” Daninger said. “I don’t make those shots without my teammates passing me and getting those assists.”

The fourth quarter was a lot like the second, with the whole bench coming out to play. DePaul held their lead and won 109-64.

They will advance to the second round of the Maggie Dixon Classic to play the winner of Miami (FL) and North Carolina A&T on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.