When No. 25 DePaul women’s basketball exploded into an early 17-0 lead and full court press against a winless Chicago State, it was evident they weren’t taking any games off.
“We treat them like any other school,” DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said. “The focus is always to play the best we can and to get better.”
Bruno’s philosophy clearly helped the team achieve a dominating 87-34 win over the Cougars Sunday.
With an astounding 54 points separating the Blue Demons and the Cougars, Sunday’s game was the 9th largest margin of victory in team history for DePaul women’s basketball. A 44-19 advantage at halftime grew even more lopsided as they skyrocketed yet again to start the second half with a 19-1 run.
The Blue Demons (6-2) never looked back after their hot start, holding the Cougars scoreless for the first 7 minutes. Megan Podkowa, coming off of a hamstring injury that kept her out Wednesday against Butler, led the Blue Demons with 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting. Freshman Mart’e Grays had a solid game with 16 points and Megan Rogowski was 3-5 from the 3-point line in an impressive showing.
Despite leaving the game early in the first half to get stitches for a bloody nose, Chanise Jenkins recorded five steals, second-best on the team behind Jessica January, who had six. There is no word yet on Jenkins’ status for the next game against Notre Dame.
As for the Cougars (0-7), Layne Murphy led the team with nine points and nine rebounds, barely missing a double-double. They stayed tough on the boards, out-rebounding DePaul, 44-43.
The relentless Blue Demon full-court and half-court press, however, proved too much for the Cougars, as DePaul had 25 steals and forced 43 turnovers for the home team. They also struggled with shooting, finishing 29 percent from the field.
Bruno was able to give a more-inexperienced second unit led by Grays a lot of minutes this game and said he was impressed with their play, but still found room for improvement and development.
“They did some really good things,” Bruno said. “But, some things, like better rebounding and consistent defensive pressure, you can’t just wish to happen. They’ve gotta functionally happen.”
Podkowa seemed to have no problem adjusting after her minor injury, logging a team-best 23 minutes and leading the team in scoring. But, she said it was not easy getting acclimated to the game again.
“I definitely felt a little out of shape, and not practicing for a few days took a toll on me,” Podkowa said. “As the game went along, my hamstring got a little looser and I was able to be more explosive.”
For the most part, the team’s mind is on their next opponent, Notre Dame, their most important game yet. The No. 2 Fighting Irish are 7-0 and one of the best teams in the country.
“Knowing that we have Notre Dame coming up, we all knew that we had to be focused for this game because it’s our preparation,” Podkowa said.
The two teams square off this Wednesday at 8:15 pm at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
“Our entire schedule has been preparing us for this upcoming game,” Bruno said. “That is where our main focus is now.”