DePaul downs Butler 80-65, improves to 17-2

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DePaul downs Butler 80-65, improves to 17-2

Deja Church rises for a jumper in the first half against Butler.

Deja Church rises for a jumper in the first half against Butler.

Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

Deja Church rises for a jumper in the first half against Butler.

Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

Deja Church rises for a jumper in the first half against Butler.

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The DePaul Blue Demons have been having one of the best possible starts to their season. Halfway in, and the Blue Demons were 16-2 with a two-game lead on the rest of the Big East heading into their collision with Butler on Sunday. As messy as things got during points at Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Blue Demons pulled ahead in the third quarter to hold onto an 80-65 win. Sonya Morris lead the Blue Demons with 22 points on the day.

The first quarter started off quite sloppy for both teams. For Butler, it was all about turnovers. They had eight turnovers by the first media timeout. DePaul made its first two shots but went on a 2-for-14 drought that let Butler stay within two points. After eight minutes only Lexi Held and Kelly Campbell had scored for DePaul. Oumu Toure had six for the Bulldogs as DePaul lead just 14-12 after ten minutes.

A 5-for-19 start from the field keeps the Blue Demons from being able to do what they do best: pressure defense. It’s hard to set up a full-court press off of missed shots. The second quarter opened with Butler hitting a three to take its first lead of the game. DePaul’s shooting woes continued for a few minutes as they missed their first five shots before Lexi Held hit a 3-pointer.

The Blue Demons were able to stay in the game through their defense. It was three turnovers that lead to a 9-0 run for the Blue Demons as they regained a 23-17 lead with five minutes left in the half. Outside of that quick run, offense was still hard to find in the second quarter with pleads from head coach Doug Bruno to “move the ball”

Senior and leading scorer Chante Stonewall scored just two points in the first half as the offense struggled from the field.

Forcing 16 first-half turnovers helped even out the 31.4 percent shooting from the field as DePaul went into the break holding a 36-30 lead after Sonya Morris hit a floater at the buzzer.

The Bulldogs had 26 turnovers in the game, and that pressure kept DePaul going well.

“Our pressure wears them out and we did a good job of forcing turnovers in the halfcourt,” head coach Doug Bruno said.

Campbell’s seven first-half points put her just six away from reaching 1000 points on her career.

36-30 after the first half might not be a scoreline that the Blue Demons are used to playing, but the game was still within control. Games in the Big East don’t come easy and especially not when its on the road. A 0-for-5 start in the second half was negated by a Dee Bekelja 3-pointer leading to DePaul’s largest lead of the game at 44-33 a few minutes later after Morris hit a three of her own.

That’s how this DePaul team can hurt opponents. A few missed layups or turnovers can lead to a game getting out of hand quickly.

A phenomenon like that happened for DePaul as the Blue Demons went on a 12-2 run to close the third quarter to lead 61-41 after 2.9 seconds left. In a flash, the Blue Demons were able to pull off a run to give themselves a comfortable lead going into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, both teams came out sluggish. The Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run in just forty seconds to cut the DePaul lead to 67-50 with 6:07 remaining.

Butler held onto the ball well in the fourth quarter, a good sight for a team that commits over 17 turnovers a game on average. It was Kristen Spolyar that lead the Bulldog rush in the fourth quarter. The forward had 10 points in the fourth quarter to pad her 25 point performance before fouling out with 1:11 remaining. Her fourth-quarter efforts were matched by Stonewall who came through in the final period to score eight of her ten points down the stretch.

Kelly Campbell hit from deep with 4:16 remaining to reach 1002 points on her DePaul career. The senior guard had 15 points and six rebounds on the day.

A few minutes later and DePaul had weathered the storm, improving to 17-2 and 7-0 in Big East play.

The Blue Demons will host Villanova on Friday at 7 p.m. to start a four-game homestand.