Creighton hands DePaul women their first Big East loss


DePaul Athletics

Freshman forward Zaria Hurston stares down a Bluejays ball handler in DePaul’s loss to Creighton on Saturday.

Looking to finish 2022 unbeaten in the Big East, the Blue Demons were faced with another tough task against the No. 21 ranked Creighton Bluejays on Saturday

Similar to the Louisville game on Dec. 21, DePaul was out-matched and hurt by a sluggish first half start. The 92-82 loss on Saturday hurt the Blue Demons’ resume for a possible chance to dance in March. 

Creighton came into the game as one of the better shooting teams in the country. At 41 percent from the field, the Bluejays have hit their stride and are firing on all cylinders. 

The Blue Jays’ offense featured a tremendous amount of screens and off-ball action that proved tough for head coach Doug Bruno’s squad to defend. Possession after possession, DePaul missed defensive assignments, as Bluejay players continually ran freely to the basket for an easy layup or got open for a three-pointer. 

DePaul allowed 50% shooting from three in the opening quarters and 63% from the field by halftime, as the Blue Demons trailed 49-41. 

“We did not guard the way we did to get the lead, and it happened because we did not have good constructive looks on the offensive end,” Bruno said. “The game is a lot more simple than we all sometimes make it [out to be]. You have to get the stops and rebounds, and get good looks at the basket.” 

Offensively, the struggles to get simple, quality shots bothered the Blue Demons. Despite 33-points from star Sophomore Aneesah Morrow, she struggled early against Creighton. Morrow ended the first half shooting just 3-15, as DePaul had no real answer after giving 49 first half points. It was a poor first-half defensive performance compared to the 24 first-half points DePaul allowed against Providence in the game prior. 

Bruno has had a short leash on the players he’s trusted this season and thus has played multiple games with just one or two substitutes. 

Freshman Zaria Hurston may have played her best game as Blue Demons, as she was active offensively creating second chances and doing the dirty-work for the team. 

Freshman guard Maeve McErlanemade her debut in Saturday’s game at Wintrust, but played just under four restricted minutes in her first appearance for DePaul. 

The switch flipped in the third quarter as DePaul had one of its best showings of the season thus far. 

Morrow opened the second half on her own personal 10-0 run and was perfect in the third quarter, going 7-7 from the field with 15 points. Her impressive performance in the third quarter tied the game at 51 a piece. 

In the second half, DePaul was active defensively, forcing Creighton into bad turnovers and leaving them with empty possessions. The team’s staunch defensive surge helped DePaul finally take its first lead of the game, edging-out the Bluejays 63-60. 

During this span, the Blue Demons shot 73% from three and 83% from the field. The stretch featured junior Kendall Holmes and her 15-point night, as she poured in her fifth three of the game as DePaul had a 72-65 lead headed to the fourth. 

Holmes’ play complimented Morrow’s impressive period after the star’s slow offensive start.

“I personally feel like I didn’t have a good first half… so I knew that my team needed me and I needed to come out there and be productive,” Morrow said. “We told each other to play as a collective [group] and have to have each other’s backs and feel like we showed that in the third quarter.” 

The 31-point third quarter is the most points total in a single period scored by the Blue Demons so far this season.

A 7-0 Creighton run to start the 4th quickly tied the game at 72. After a Rogers floater gave DePaul the lead again, they were held scoreless in the last three and a half minutes of the game, giving Creighton the win. The loss was a missed opportunity against a top-25 opponent that would’ve bolstered the Blue Demons’ resume. 

“We did not guard, you [have to] make stops and get good looks,” Bruno said. “The game is connected and some coaches say it’s all about defense and all about offense. When you make good stops, it’s amazing how you can find a rhyme offensively, and when you don’t make stops you lose your rhyme.” 

With each game mattering more and more, DePaul will have to string together a couple of wins to get back on track and place themselves in the right position. Ultimately the bad losses to Cleveland State, NIU and Towson are games that could hold back the Blue Demons’ hopes of making the NCAA Tournament, regardless of how the season finishes. 

Back at home on Jan. 4, DePaul (10-5, 3-1) will host Marquette (9-5, 2-3) as the two rivals meet for the first time this season. DePaul will look to close the six game homestand with a much needed win. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST and can be seen on FloSports.