Morris scores career high as DePaul bests Villanova

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Morris scores career high as DePaul bests Villanova

Sonya Morris goes up for a jumper in the lane in the first half against Villanova.

Sonya Morris goes up for a jumper in the lane in the first half against Villanova.

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Sonya Morris goes up for a jumper in the lane in the first half against Villanova.

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Sonya Morris goes up for a jumper in the lane in the first half against Villanova.

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Sonya Morris scored a career-high 30 points as DePaul beat Villanova 85-69 Friday night to improve to 18-2 on the season and 8-0 in Big East play. 

In the first quarter, both teams came out aggressive. Lexi Held had ten of DePaul’s first 16 points in the quarter. The sophomore guard made her first three shots from the field and got to the line to help get the Blue Demons to a 16-5 lead with 5:00 left in the first quarter. 

After the past two games were close at the start, a quick jump on a team like Villanova pays dividends. “I think it’s very important, I mean, one of our goals is to get off to a quick and efficient start and so I was just trying to bring the energy offensively and defensively,” sophomore guard Lexi Held said.

The DePaul press pushed the Wildcats towards the end of the quarter, keeping Villanova from getting a field goal over the last 3:24 of the quarter. Held’s 12 points paced the Blue Demons to a 26-12 lead after the first quarter. 

Despite the early advantage, the Wildcats, who are second place in the Big East, wouldn’t stay down. Mackenzie Gardler hit a three followed by a Bridget Herlihy layup that forced head coach Doug Bruno to take a timeout with 5:02 remaining with his team up 33-24. 

Through the last five minutes, the nine-point lead stayed its course as DePaul lead 43-34 going into the break. Sonya Morris and Held combined for 29 points in the first half, opening things up for DePaul’s classic pressure basketball to force Villanova to eight first-half turnovers. 

Deja Church opened the second half with a jumper followed by a Morris jumper that ended in a 3-point play to extend the DePaul lead to 14. A few minutes later, and Morris would get a steal on an inbound play that ended in a layup, furthering DePaul’s lead to 58-41 with 5:04 left in the quarter. 

Church had nine points in the quarter and a last-second steal led to a Morris layup as the clock expired, sending DePaul into the final ten minutes with a 70-52 lead. 

The fourth quarter saw Morris keep extending her career night. She hit 30 points on a mid-range jumper as the Blue Demons maintained their lead. Morris finished the night with 30 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.  

30 points is the sophomore’s career-high, topping her 29 point performance against Notre Dame on Dec. 11. 

“I think it starts with confidence,” Morris said. “Having confidence in myself, my coaches have confidence in me, my teammates have confidence in me.” 

As the starters went to the bench, DePaul closed out a solid night that saw them climb to a three-game lead on the rest of the conference after the 85-69 win. 

The game was the first game back after a quick road trip for the Blue Demons. The Friday game and Sunday game schedule has been a staple in the Big East. Being able to play at home makes a difference for anyone. 

“I think it’s great,” Held said. “Our rooms are 20 feet away from here so we don’t have much traveling to do. It’s always great to have a home-court advantage.”

The Blue Demons will face Georgetown this Sunday at McGrath-Phillips Arena at 2 p.m.