DePaul comes up short against Saint Louis in first round of WNIT


Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia

DePaul senior guard Deja Church drives to the rim during a game against Butler on Monday at Wintrust Arena.

DePaul saw its hopes of making the NCAA Tournament slip away after losing four out of its last five games to end the season — including a first round exit from the Big East Tournament.

As a result, they missed out and instead found themselves in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) against the Saint Louis Billikens.

Despite the 13 days of rest, the Blue Demons lost their WNIT opener as they fell 74-72 to Saint Louis.

Getting off to a slow start hurt DePaul during the tail end of the season. That wasn’t the case this time around. The Blue Demons shot 52.9 percent from the field. Saint Louis simply shot  better than 60 percent and propelled them to a 25-20 lead to end the opening quarter.

DePaul was able to go on a 7-0 run in the second quarter to take a 35-33 lead. Offenses for both sides struggled during the last three minutes of the half as neither side was able to score before the buzzer rang for halftime.

The third quarter proved to be the turning point as Saint Louis took control. The Billikens went on an 11-2 run to take the lead. DePaul were outscored 23-14 in the third and trailed 57-49 heading into the fourth quarter.

Saint Louis were able to stretch the lead to 14 points, the largest of the night, before DePaul mounted a comeback. The Blue Demons went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead down to three points before the Billikens took a timeout with 5:30 left to go in the game. 

The lead was down to one, 68-67 with 2:19 left to play. Freshman guard Darrione Rogers sunk a huge 3-pointer to tie the game at 70. After Saint Louis retook the lead, junior Sonya Morris responded to tie the game back up again.

Two late free-throws by Saint Louis put them ahead for good as Morris missed her shot with one second left to go in the game.

For anyone who saw DePaul’s final five games of the season, this one was no different. Scoring droughts and the inability to add to their lead once again hurt them. At no time this season were they able to adhere to coach Doug Bruno’s mantra of “grow the lead, don’t blow the lead.”

Defensively, the team still left a lot to be desired. Prior to the fourth quarter comeback, anytime DePaul mustered a bit of a run, Saint Louis would respond quickly. That’s also been an issue since the start of the new year.

Morris finished with a double-double, 28 points and 10 rebounds, and junior Lexi Held had 16 points. Rogers had 18 points off the bench and was an important piece to DePaul getting back into the game in the final quarter. During one stretch in the quarter, the freshman scored eight straight points for the Blue Demons that got them back in the game. 

The rest of the starters only had eight points combined, which is not a good sign for a team that relies so heavily on its starters as DePaul does.

With the loss, the Blue Demons now move to the consolation bracket where they will take on either Milwaukee or Drake on Saturday.