Penny & Martin each score 22 in 95-80 win over Yale

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The Blue Demons dominated the paint and finished with five in double-figure scoring as they defeated the Yale Bulldogs 95-80 at McGrath-Phillips Arena Monday night.

DePaul (3-1) scored a whopping 64 points in the paint to Yale’s 32, putting on a clinic driving and dishing to open cutters who found space behind a hapless Bulldog defense. The Blue Demons were led by Jasmine Penny and Anna Martin in scoring, who both finished with 22 points.

“I really thought the Yale team did a great job of pushing us tonight. They played with such a great fearlessness that it forced us to really play,” said head coach Doug Bruno. “I was really excited with the degree of difficulty that was created in this win.”

Yale (1-3) did prove to be a formidable opponent early in the first half, trading leads with DePaul  by way of tough, contested shots and a dedicated defense. DePaul jumped out on an 11-3 run with under four minutes to play, retaking the lead 37-32, which gave them some breathing room entering halftime.

Along with Penny and Martin’s scoring, Chanise Jenkins provided a big boost on both ends of the floor, finishing with a solid statline of 11 points, six rebounds and a career high nine assists.

“My confidence level was pretty high — the team did a good job today of getting open for me to be able to pass them the ball, and for them to get the ball to me,” said Jenkins. “It was really a team effort for how confident I was today.”

Jenkins punctuated the end of the first half with a pretty behind-the-back move on a fastbreak to evade her defender for a layup, giving the Blue Demons a 43-34 halftime lead as part of a 13-2 run.

“I was just coming back focused and doing whatever I can for the team. We had good preparation in practice, and it was good for us for what we’re going to face in the Virgin Islands,” said Jenkins. “This game tonight showed us what we needed to work on and some things we can improve on. It was a good game today.”

The team hops on a plane to the Virgin Islands for a three-game slate in the Paradise Jam, but needed to gather some momentum against Yale before doing so.

“I wish we could have eliminated some of our mistakes tonight, and at the same time I do feel a bit of gratitude that we were pushed the way we were pushed,” said Bruno.

The second half picked up the pace and aggression, Yale unwillingly to lie down and let DePaul take over the game. Led by Sarah Halejian and Nyasha Sarju, the Bulldogs continuously scraped away at the Blue Demons’ leads, taking advantage of often lackluster defense from the home team. It seemed that every time DePaul converted a quick basket on a fastbreak or off a Yale turnover, the visitor came right back on the attack to make one of their own.

“It was a physical game but it’s all about being competitive. You just gotta compete every trip, play in and play out, through the whole night,” said Penny. “So individually I just try to compete all game, for every rebound, on defense and scoring.”

“Part of our aggression up the floor lends itself to being not quite as efficient as we need to be in the half court,” said Bruno. “That’s really I think where we’re just not quite as strong as we needed to be defensively, and that’s where we had the chance to really put some major separation between us at various points in the game.”

In the end, DePaul simply dominated the important categories. Making use of their 17 steals, the Blue Demons created Bulldog turnovers into quick offensive strikes, scoring 37 points off of turnovers. Yale made things interesting with about nine minutes to play, as Megan Vasquez made a layup to cut the score to single digits, at 78-70.

But the Demons weathered the storm, working hard for every basket and controlling the boards down the stretch. Katherine Harry had an especially impressive night on the glass, grabbing 16 rebounds and rounding out her double-double with 18 points.

DePaul faltered at times, but held on late to kill any kind of run Yale was attempting to make. One of the biggest plays of the second half came with three and a half minutes left — Penny missed a gimme shot off an easy dish from Jenkins, but collected herself and despite having her shot blocked twice, went back up a third time to get the bucket plus the foul. An 89-74 lead at that point was game over.

The game wasn’t a sight for sore eyes, but was definitely a step in the right direction for the Blue Demons.

“It’s a work in progress, but it’s nice to win a game like this,” said Bruno.

The women’s team next travels to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam, competing in the Reef Division. The Blue Demons’ first opponent is Florida Gulf Coast, whom they face Thursday at 2:30 p.m. CT.