The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul raises awareness for heart health in double overtime game

Will Robson
DePaul’s Charlece Ohiaeri (No. 3) encourages teammate Katlyn Gilbert (No. 0) on the Blue Demon bench in a game against Creighton Jan. 6, at Wintrust Arena. Gilbert, who leads the Big East in steals per game, tallied 6 Thursday against St. John’s.

DePaul fell short 83-77 to St. John’s in a double overtime thriller at Wintrust Arena Thursday, Jan. 25, in the Maggie Dixon Classic. 

Three Blue Demons finished with double-digit points led by guard Anaya Peoples with a career-high 37 points and 16 rebounds. Unique Drake contributed 36 points for St. John’s. DePaul forced a season-high 23 total turnovers, which led to 22 points off turnovers, and 46 points in the paint. 

“Our will,” guard Katlyn Gilbert said about how they recorded those numbers. “Our will to win, our will to play defense and get stops.” 

The game honored Maggie Dixon and recognized the importance of heart health.  

Dixon was an assistant coach to Bruno from 2000 to 2005 before being hired as coach for the Army Black Knights in West Point, New York days before the 2005-06 season began. Dixon passed away April 6, 2006, from heart arrhythmia at age 28. 

“She [Dixon] was good, she worked very, very hard,” Bruno said. “She was great with people. She was this person that made every group of people she interacted with feel like they were the only people on the Earth.” 

Dixon approached Bruno in October 2005 to notify him of the open coaching position at the Army. Bruno told her she had to go for it. 

Dixon made history at the academy program right away. She led the Black Knights to their first NCAA Tournament after winning the Patriot League regular season championship the month before. 

“I didn’t believe it when I first heard it,” Bruno said when he found out about Dixon’s collapse. “I immediately got on a plane from Boston down to Westchester County Hospital where she was.” 

Bruno said the program’s offices are dedicated to Dixon, and there is a mural of her as well. 

“Believe me, she worked,” Bruno said. “That heart was pumping hard every day in practice because she was working hard in practice every day.” 

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, with an estimated 17.9 million tragedies each year. 

Rush Physical Therapy was in attendance at Wintrust as well, hosting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training classes to promote awareness of heart health. 

“It’s extremely important,” said Noreen Vlamakis, National Director of Sports Partnerships for Select Medical, which includes Rush as a joint venture. “I think you never know what is going to happen. I always say, ‘see your doctor, get those baseline tests, do your physical annually.’” 

Vlamakis was once the athletic trainer at DePaul, where she also worked with Dixon. 

“Dixon was the most kind woman,” Vlamakis said. “Her charisma was just contagious.” 

A student-athlete passes away every three days in the United States from cardiac disease. Around 45 people attended the training. 

“I think it’s important that we bring awareness to anybody that you can do hands-only compression,” Vlamakis said. “You are your own advocate … You have to take control of being proactive with any of the care that you need.”

Take 10 is a CPR training Vlamakis recommends that teaches hands-on compressions. 

DePaul guard Anaya Peoples drives to the rim in a game against Creighton Jan. 6, at Wintrust Arena. On Thursday, Peoples scored a career-high 37 points in a career-high 49 minutes of play. (Will Robson)

Bruno wore a shirt honoring Dixon, as well as the players during warmups. 

A double overtime competition forced the players to remain structured and strategic. 

“This is something we prepare for in the off-season,” Gilbert said. “We know that there will probably be games like this. In practice, we give every rep our all, and we just keep each other grounded and positive.” 

DePaul was down by 12 at halftime but battled back with a dominant 20-12 third quarter. Michelle Sidor had a powerful sequence in the quarter of making a three, and then taking a defensive charge to bring the team within four points.

DePaul got its first lead in the fourth quarter when Peoples made two free throws after drawing a foul at the six-minute mark to make it 51-50. The game from there was back and forth, with Wintrust Arena getting louder every possession. 

DePaul shot just 2-20 from the 3-point, contributing to their loss. 

“We dug too deep a hole in the first half,” head coach Doug Bruno said. “We could never just get over the hump and put ourselves in a position to win the game. … I wish we would have just been able to convert a couple of those possessions.” 

St. John’s stayed active at the 3-point line, while DePaul competed with driving the lane. During overtime play, the strategy was to get the ball to a shooter. 

“We wanted to get the ball in Anaya’s hands as simply and as efficiently as we could,” Bruno said. “We got shots at the rim down the stretch, and we got shooters a couple good looks down the stretch that didn’t go in. … You got to keep battling, you got to keep making stops.”  

Allen, McErlane and two Red Storm players fouled out by the end of the night. Peoples fouled out in the last minute of the game, playing 49 of the 50 total minutes. 

DePaul moves to 10-11 on the season, 2-6 in the Big East.

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