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 honors five seniors in final home game, falls to Butler in heartbreaker

Jaydi Vasquez
Forward Jorie Allen works in the paint against Butler on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. Allen, a graduate, will use her last season of eligibility to return to DePaul next season.

Senior night is a bittersweet farewell in a college athlete’s career. It’s a day to reflect on cherished accomplishments while recalling the battles fought and all the moments that led them to this final game on their home court. 

For the last home game at Wintrust of the season Feb. 28, DePaul had a consistently strong night with an array of players offering several contributions yet fell to Butler 73-70 in a close back-and-forth battle, coming down to the final seconds. Three Blue Demons finished with double digits, powered by a 20-piece from forward Jorie Allen and a career-high 17 rebounds from guard Katlyn Gilbert. 

The program honored its five seniors tonight: guards Anaya Peoples, Jade Edwards, Michelle Sidor and Gilbert, and forward Brynn Masikewich. 

Peoples currently leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and blocks

“I was trying to keep my composure,” Peoples said. “It meant a lot just being able to play for this program, for coach Bruno. I was filled with a lot of emotions. This is the closest team I’ve ever been on.” 

Graduate Anaya Peoples looks for a pass against Butler on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. The guard who led the team in points, rebounds and assists was celebrated during senior night. (Jaydi Vasquez)

Peoples came to DePaul from Notre Dame in April 2022. 

“I didn’t want the moment to end, but I just tried to embrace it and soak it in,” Peoples said. “I’m just so thankful for this team.” 

A theme for this season is how close the team is to one another. Several players and Bruno have commented throughout the year about the tight team chemistry and family this group has created among themselves. 

“This really has been a great group of seniors, and it’s a unique senior class,” Bruno said. “As tough as the result of the game is, we have been blessed to coach really, really good people on this team. This team has stayed together, and it’s been very admirable to watch from a coaching staff perspective.” 

All players entered the court with a smile tonight, and the teammates were cheering on their seniors during a highlight video before the ceremony. Each got a bouquet of flowers and a framed jersey as they went to center court with their loved ones to take photos. 

Allen, a veteran on the team, will return to DePaul next season with another year of eligibility left. She is in her fourth season at DePaul, the longest of any other player on the roster. 

Allen and Peoples are a dominant duo on this team, both strong in the paint offensively and defensively. 

“We just have a really good group of human beings,” Allen said, both her and Peoples teary-eyed. “We’ve (herself and Peoples) been through a lot together. … She’s just been an absolute light in my life and everyone’s life here.” 

Edwards transferred to DePaul summer of 2022 from American University in Washington D.C., where she finished 10th in program history in points, seventh in rebounds and ninth in blocks. She has played in 23 games for DePaul this season and averages 1.7 points per game. 

Gilbert, originally from Indianapolis, came to DePaul in June 2023 after playing at Notre Dame and Missouri. She currently averages 8.7 points a game and leads the team with 74 steals on the season so far. 

Masikewich came to DePaul in May 2023 after four years at UCLA and has spent time playing for Team Canada. Although missing two weeks earlier this season with a hand injury, she averages 4.1 points and offers the most height on the team, being 6-foot-3. She is a diverse player with talent in the post but also can shoot long-range. 

Sidor transferred to DePaul April of 2023 after four years at Michigan University. She has the highest 3-point shooting average on the team at 41% and averages 8.1 points a game. 

Peoples, a Danville, Illinois native, is the only player in the Big East to rank in the top 10 in points, rebounds, steals and blocks. She averages 17.4 points a game and has been named to the Big East’s weekly honor roll six times this season. 

“There’s going to be a real world out there waiting for them,” Bruno said. “Hopefully what they learned by the work they put into the process of being the best they can be, does carry over into the rest of their lives.” 

The game itself was a fight until the final buzzer. There were six lead changes and three ties in the fourth quarter after DePaul had the lead for 30 minutes of the game. 

Head coach Doug Bruno facilitates the huddle during a match against Butler on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. Wednesday was his last home game of Bruno’s 38th season as DePaul’s head coach. (Jaydi Vasquez)

The Blue Demons forced four Butler turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, and Allen had 10 points in the first quarter. She continued to score in the paint all night and helped DePaul with an additional 21 second-chance points compared to Butler’s eight. 

“Coach Bruno has really installed offensive rebounding in us,” Allen said. “I always try to crash the boards and occupy, even if I don’t get the ball. … I had an advantage today and I got off to a good start. My teammates just kept getting the ball in a position where I’m able to do something with it.” 

DePaul finished the night on top of Butler in several categories, including rebounds, points in the paint, blocks, steals and assists. 

After a 38-31 lead at halftime, Butler went on a 7-0 run before Bruno called a timeout two minutes into the third quarter. Gilbert immediately got a steal and layup after the break, keeping the Blue Demon’s energy alive. 

Butler proceeded on another 12-2 run for three and a half minutes, tying up the score at 54 heading into the final 10 minutes. 

Allen, Peoples and Gilbert each had four fouls playing in the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 70 with under a minute to go. DePaul’s last possession was a feed into Allen down low, which got kicked out. Butler’s final three points came from free throws in response to being fouled. 

“That’s one play,” Bruno said about the final possession. “When a game like this is over, everybody recalls the plays at the end of the game. At the same time, any one of the players during the game on both sides of the ball, can be responsible for the difference. It’s just tough.” 

DePaul has had a handful of close competitions this season. Regardless of the score, the team has a mindset to continue fighting. 

“It’s been a tough season record wise, but we’ve also played some good basketball throughout the past couple of months,” Allen said. “At the same time, for me, it’s bigger than basketball. That’s what keeps me going.” 

Peoples echoed Allen, defending the importance of playing for one another. She described her teammates as sisters and fighting for the game no matter what the score was. 

DePaul, sitting at 12-18 overall and 4-13 in Big East play, is now locked in as the No. 10 seed for the Big East Tournament and will play either Seton Hall or Georgetown in round one. The tournament debuts March 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. 

The Blue Demons travel to Pennsylvania to play Villanova, who is 10-7 in conference play, March 3 for their final regular season matchup. 

“Their (the players’) mental ability to understand that every day is a blessing and every day is an opportunity to fight a new fight … that’s a tribute to them,” Bruno said about how the team faces adversity. “Even the concept of nailing it in (quitting) has never happened here.”

More to Discover