DePaul loses 116-75 to Louisville in Jimmy V Classic

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AP Photo/Jessica Hill

Louisville’s Elizabeth Dixon, left, stops a shot-attempt by DePaul’s Dee Bekelja in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, in Uncasville, Conn.

DePaul went into its 2020-21 season with some understanding of what its schedule might look like in the first month. But a couple of days after the season started last Saturday, the Blue Demons’ schedule was already in flux. 

After finishing its victory over Chicago State on Monday, DePaul was already making a switch to its schedule. Instead of opening Big East by facing Villanova on Friday, the Blue Demons postponed that game and got on a plane to “Bubbleville” in Uncasville, Conn to face No. 5 Louisville in the Women’s Jimmy V Classic. 

The chance to face another top-25 team was too good for the Blue Demons to pass up on, especially after falling short to No. 13 Texas A&M, 93-91, in the season opener. But this was a totally different test against Louisville, as the Blue Demons struggled on both ends of the floor and lost 116-75. 

“They are a really excellent basketball team,” DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said after the game. “We hung for a quarter and that’s all. Then after that we didn’t defend, we didn’t rebound, we had no offensive patients whatsoever, trying to force the issue.”

Even though the final score resembles a blowout by the Cardinals, the first quarter saw DePaul hanging in tough and keeping the game within reach. DePaul’s 3-point shooting, however, was an issue from the start and remained like that for the entire game. The Blue Demons failed to hit their first 14 shots behind the arc until senior Dee Bekelja knocked one down late in the second quarter. 

But even with the poor 3-point shooting, DePaul was able to get good shots inside the paint and get to the free-throw line, with 18 of the team’s 24 first quarter points coming in the paint and the other coming from the charity stripe.

Louisville also struggled from behind the arc in the first quarter, going 1-of-6, but they went 12-of-24 overall from the field and also scored 18 points in the paint. The Cardinals took a 30-24 lead into the second quarter, which is where the separation started to grow between both teams. 

The Blue Demons’ offensive struggles continued to mount in the second as their 3-point shot was not falling and then Louisville was also shutting them out of the paint. DePaul only made five shots in the quarter, while the Cardinals made 12 and at one point went on a 14-0 run. 

“I believe when you miss shots, the credit needs to go to the team that was on the other side of the ball,” Bruno said. “I just have to believe that it was Louisville making us miss shots, but I was just very unhappy with the rhythm of our offense. I didn’t think there was a real rhythm to what we were doing tonight. It started becoming catch it’s my turn, then catch it’s my turn and it’s very tough to play against a good defense that way.”

The first half also saw Louisville block nine DePaul shots, with Elizabeth Balogun leading the way with four. The Cardinals were led by two scorers with 16 points in the first half, while freshman Darrione Rogers and Bekelja each had 10 for the Blue Demons. 

Combining both points in the paint (32) and points off turnovers (21), the Cardinals used those two areas to build a 61-37 lead going into the break. The second half was more the same for Louisville as its lead got all the way up to 53, 101-48, in the third quarter. 

In the third quarter, the Blue Demons only made three shots as most of their points came from the free-throw line. Bekelja and Rogers combined to score 11 points in the quarter, with the senior guard knocking down DePaul’s second 3-pointer to close the quarter. 

The fourth quarter saw both teams put in their benches as the Cardinals had already secured the victory. Rogers led the way for DePaul with a career-high 25 points, while Lousville saw five players reach double figures, including three who had 20 or more. 

DePaul is next scheduled to host Xavier on Sunday, but the Musketeers had to postpone their game on Friday against Creighton due to Covid-19 issues.