Demon derailing: DePaul nearly pulls off upset over Huskies on senior day


Jack Dombro

Sophomore forward Aneesah Morrow looks to attempt a three-point shot against a Huskies defender during Saturday’s 72-69 loss to UConn.

What could have been. 

Intercepting the inbound pass down 70-69 eight seconds left, sophomore All-American Aneesah Morrow had every DePaul fan in Wintrust Arena on their feet. DePaul was 40 feet away from making the game winning shot and finally defeating No. 4 UConn for the first time in 22 games. 

Instead, the possession ended quickly. Morrow got to the elbow and was met by three Huskies fighting for the ball. As the referee’s whistle blew, fans lifted their heads only to see the possession arrow favoring UConn, and quickly, the only people clapping were those behind the UConn bench.

DePaul fell 72-69 and, for the second time in back-to-back seasons, walked off the floor after losing to UConn by one possession, possibly thinking to themselves what could have been. 

“It’s hard to win our league,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “Especially when you’re UConn, you know, it’s a national championship for everybody when they beat us.” 

Nearing the conclusion of his 37th season at the helm of DePaul women’s basketball, Hall of Fame head coach Doug Bruno has yet to defeat Auriemma and the UConn Huskies. 

As the first quarter ended and the Blue Demons had a 21-19 advantage, the thought of having what it takes to keep up with UConn for four quarters started to loom. 

Defensively, DePaul forced 18 turnovers. Senior Anaya Peoples had a game-high five steals and was active from the start.

DePaul shot over 40% in the entire game and matched UConn nearly every possession. 

The Huskies made more timely baskets. When they went on multiple scoring droughts, the three ball got them back into the game every time. Six-foot-five graduate student, Dorka Juhasz, made her size known. 

Juhasz had 10 points in the first quarter with two three-pointers, but DePaul was not fazed. 

The Demons matched the Huskies with 26 points in the paint and were only outrebounded 42-31. 

In DePaul’s final home game of the season, senior Keke Rimmer, along with Nazlah Morrow, were the only two to walk on senior day. 

Rimmer was announced as a starter for her final home game, filling the role for injured Jorie Allen. Rimmer had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double, leaving it all on the floor Saturday afternoon. 

Tied at 37 at halftime, junior Darrione Rogers was hitting on all levels. Rogers finished the game with 15-points but gave the Blue Demons sparks from three as she hit multiple 25-plus foot shots. 

Wintrust Arena had possibly its largest showing for a women’s game on Saturday. Concourses were unwalkable and courtside seats were filled with well-known Chicagoans, including DePaul alum Allie Quigley. 

As the fourth quarter was gearing up to begin and “Is You Ready” by Migos began to play, the energy in the arena was ready to explode with anticipation that DePaul could finally get the job done. 

Continuing to exchange leads, the clock neared triple zeroes. Midway through the fourth, Morrow took a shoulder to chest and exited. After a timeout, she reentered and was right back to work. 

Reminiscent to her jersey number 24, Morrow backed down her defender and faded away similar to Kobe Bryant’s signature shot, making the basket and getting fouled. 

DePaul led by five and was in prime position with just under three minutes to play. 

With defensive breakouts and empty DePaul possessions, UConn regained the lead and took control. 

UConn’s star Aaliyah Edwards fouled out after picking up her fifth foul against Morrow. As Edwards left, she exchanged words with DePaul fans, having to be separated. 

The emotion and intensity was evident throughout the game and elevated into the final seconds. 

“The players played hard, and they are supposed to play hard,” Bruno said. “You’re not supposed to get any stars on your forward for playing hard. We competed, but we didn’t execute in the fourth quarter on both sides of the ball.” 

Bruno and the squad will conclude the season at Marquette, Monday, Feb. 27, looking to avoid falling below .500 to finish the season. 

The Big East conference tournament begins March 3, with the Demons’ eyeing a seven or eight seed in the first round of the tournament. 

“We can still turn this thing around,” Bruno said. “We still have a chance to turn this thing around.”