DePaul rolls past Villanova to pick up third Big East win on the season


Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia

DePaul junior guard Sonya Morris looks to drive past a Villanova defender on Monday at Wintrust Arena.

A couple of days ago, DePaul was preparing to face Marquette on Sunday, but that game was postponed 48 hours before the two rivals were supposed to meet. 

Two days later, the Blue Demons found out they are going to be hosting Villanova on Monday at Wintrust Arena. That is the current nature of college basketball — where games are being moved around on a daily basis, and it asks teams to be ready at a moment’s notice. 

DePaul was in search of a win after a disappointing loss to then-No. 4 UConn 75-52 on Dec. 29, and the Blue Demons came out with a much better performance against the Wildcats — winning 94-82 at Wintrust Arena. 

“I was proud of how hard [the players] worked, how hard they came after the game,” DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said. “That was a really hard fought basketball game. We would have liked to been technically better and a little bit more execution better in the second half when we were positioned to perhaps put it away. But Villanova is a really well coached team, they are an excellent collection of basketball players and they are not just going to let you run away with the game.”

The Blue Demons’ offense struggled in their last outing against the Huskies, but played with much more fluidity on Monday. Led by five players in double figures — Lexi Held, Sonya Morris, Deja Church, Dee Bekelja and Darrione Rogers — DePaul shot above 40 percent both from the field and the 3-point line. 

There wasn’t much to separate both teams in the first quarter as the game was tied at 10 near the midway point. Villanova closed out the quarter on a 4-0 run to cut the deficit to one, 20-19. 

In the second quarter, however, DePaul began to heat up from the 3-point line by hitting in the first minute and another five the rest of the quarter. Rogers, who had a double-double against UConn last week, knocked down four 3-pointers in the quarter to give her 14 points in the first half.

DePaul freshman Darrione Rogers defends a Villanova player on Monday at Wintrust Arena. (Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia)

“Throughout the games, I’m building more and more confidence,” Rogers said. “I think my teammates and coaching staff are really trusting me with the ball in my hands as well, and they are finding me. I just been able to knock down shots and execute offensively.”

As a team, DePaul shot 51.3 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from behind the arc in the half, which was good enough to give them a 54-43 lead. 

Villanova continued to struggle to contain DePaul’s 3-point shooting out of the break, with the Blue Demons knocking down eight consecutive shots from the 3-point line. DePaul had two runs in the third quarter to pull ahead of Villanova, with both being 8-0 runs to give the Blue Demons double-digit leads. 

The Wildcats were able to stay in the game throughout the second half mainly through the play of their junior forward Madison Siegrist, who scored 16 points in the first half and then added 18 in the second half. 

Even with Siegrist’s effort to get her team back in the game, the Blue Demons were able to keep a good distance between themselves and Villanova to ensure a victory. 

Morris finished the game with 22 points to lead the Blue Demons, but she fouled out in the fourth quarter. Rogers had another strong outing off the bench as she added 21 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. 

“We still prepare for each individual game, but we know at the end of the day — just like the Marquette game — you can’t sleep,” Morris said. 

DePaul’s next game is scheduled for Thursday against Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse.