Poor shooting dooms DePaul in 75-52 loss to UConn


David Butler II/Pool Photo via AP

DePaul guard Sonya Morris (11) is defended by Connecticut guard Christyn Williams (13) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Storrs, Conn

DePaul and UConn have been playing each other every season since the Huskies left the Big East in 2013. But the two teams are finally back to playing two times in the regular season with UConn making its return to the conference in 2020. 

Both of these programs are the only Big East teams currently ranked in the AP Top-25 poll, and they squared off on Tuesday at Gampel Pavilion. The Blue Demons only have one ever win over the Huskies and that came in 1983, two years before Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma took over at UConn. 

Well, DePaul is still searching for that second ever victory over UConn after Auriemma’s team came away with the 75-52 win on Tuesday. Fifty two points is the fewest points the Blue Demons have scored since Dec. 1, 2016, according to Her Hoop Stats.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Blue Demons, and dropped them to 1-3 in games against top-25 teams this season. 

DePaul came into Tuesday’s game averaging just under 90 points per game with six players averaging in double figures. But the Blue Demons struggled all night long to find their offense, as they shot 25 percent from the field and 24.3 percent from the 3-point line. 

While DePaul already faced three ranked opponents coming into Tuesday’s game, this was the first ranked team that the Huskies have faced this season. In four prior Big East games, UConn was averaging 92 points per game and holding teams to only 28.8 percent shooting.

That elite defense again came to play against DePaul as the Blue Demons’ starters really struggled to shoot and find any rhythm on offense. In fact, it was freshman Darrione Rogers who led DePaul in scoring with 20 points and also added 10 rebounds. 

Junior guard Sonya Morris came into the game leading DePaul in scoring with 18.7 per game, and was named the Big East Player of the Week for her performance against Creighton on Dec. 23. But she could only muster up eight points on 2-of-14 shooting and 2-of-8 from the 3-point line. 

DePaul did start the game by knocking down four 3-pointers and taking a 14-12 lead, but that advantage would only last a couple of seconds as the Huskies responded with an 8-0 run and took a 20-16 lead into the second quarter. 

UConn had a considerable size advantage inside with 6-foot-5 forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa. The Huskies played through her all night as she was able to create offense for herself and her teammates. Nelson-Ododa finished the game with 16 points and 14 rebounds. 

She wasn’t the only dominant UConn player in the game as freshman Paige Bueckers led the way with 18 points and six rebounds, while three other players also scored in double figures. 

DePaul’s offensive struggles really picked up in the second quarter as they failed to register a 3-point make in nine attempts and only scored 11 points. The Blue Demons’ defense only limited the Huskies to 18 points in the quarter, but went into the break trailing 38-27. 

Junior guard Lexi Held came out in the third quarter scoring the first five points and making it a six-point game, but that would be the closest DePaul would get the rest of the way.

Nelson-Ododa responded by scoring the next five points and pretty much putting the game away for her team. DePaul only managed to score 10 more points in the quarter, with nine of them coming from behind the arc. 

The Huskies did a good job of forcing the Blue Demons to long-range shots and limiting DePaul to only 12 points in the paint. On the other hand, UConn was able to score 38 of its 75 points in the paint in large part due to its massive size advantage. They also outrebounded the Blue Demons 53-41. 

The fourth quarter saw DePaul only score nine points with the team having more turnovers (5) than made shots (2) in the final 10 minutes. Still, Rogers continued to battle away and scored seven points in the quarter. 

Not a single other DePaul player finished in double figures other than Rogers, and the team finished the game with 16 turnovers. 

The Blue Demons are now 5-3 on the season and 2-1 in the Big East, with the team back in action against Marquette on Jan. 3.