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DePaul Wins Dogfight To Pull ahead in Big East Regular Season Race

DePaul Wins Dogfight To Pull ahead in Big East Regular Season Race

No. 19/21 DePaul 60, Creighton 56

Jim Flanery’s Creighton Bluejays have plenty of reasons to feel good about where they stand in the season considering all of the injuries they have overcome, but after Friday night’s loss to 21st-ranked DePaul disappointment was the prevailing sentiment.

Creighton turned the ball over 17 times and shot 30.3% from the field in the third and fourth quarter as they played from behind most of the second half despite leading by eight points at the break and leading by as many as 11 in the second quarter.

“DePaul has been the best team in the league for a reason,” Flanery said. “They were tough-minded and made some plays at the end.”

The Bluejays fell behind 7-0 to start the game after turning the ball four times and going 0-for-5 from the field on their first eight possessions. After a timeout by Flanery, they responded with a 10-0 run that was capped off by a pair of 3-pointers by sophomore forward Audrey Faber in a span of 28 seconds.

That run was enough to give Creighton a one-point lead entering the second quarter, which they extended to eight after scoring the first seven points of the period. Despite holding the Blue Demons to just two points over a stretch of nearly nine minutes of game time the Bluejays only found themselves leading 17-9 with 7:00 left before halftime due in large part to the sloppy play at the start of the game.

After DePaul cut Creighton’s lead to four, Faber capped off another 7-0 run with a 3-pointer to give her team its largest lead of the night at 26-15 with 2:18 left in the second quarter. The Blue Demons pulled back within couple possessions, but a traditional 3-point play in the final minute of the half by junior guard Sydney Lamberty gave the Bluejays a 29-21 halftime lead.

Creighton extended the lead to double digits again on their first possession of the second half when senior guard Marissa Janning drove to the basket and finished with her right hand. That was the last bit of good from the Bluejays for the next few minutes as the Blue Demons finally caught the Jays napping in transition and ripped off an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to take a 32-31 lead.

“I thought the game really flipped right there,” Flanery said. “A lot of the work that we had done to frustrate them in the first half was completely negated within three to four minutes.”

Janning singled out a few undisciplined offensive possessions and a lack of focus for the couple of leak outs that the Blue Demons got in transition during that run.

“We got caught taking shots from the baseline,” the senior guard said. “There was one from the right baseline by our bench, and there was one from the left, then there was a tough shot underneath. I think we were just focused on standing and watching, or crashing the offensive glass, and only had one safety back. Sometimes we have two people back, and we just got caught not getting back on baseline shots like we should.”

DePaul didn’t get much time to enjoy their lead as Creighton freshman forward Jaylyn Agnew converted a traditional 3-point play that was set up by her senior teammate Lauren Works. That put the Bluejays up 34-32, but DePaul senior guard Brook Schulte’s game-tying layup on the ensuing possession ignited an 11-2 run for the Blue Demons that resulted in a 43-36 lead with 3:06 to go in the third quarter.

The Bluejays closed the third quarter down by only three, but were forced to play catch-up for most of the final period. Janning got her team over the hump at least momentarily when she got another right-handed drive to fall for a 48-47 lead, but freshman guard Deja Cage answered on the ensuing possession for the Blue Demons. The 5-foot-7 guard from Chicago, Ill. came through again to extend the lead to 53-50 with 4:40 left to play.

Lauren Works, as she did so often during the first half of Big East play, came up with another big play late for the Bluejays when she found Jaylyn Agnew on a back cut to the basket. Agnew got the shot to drop, drew the foul, and sank the free throw to tie the game at 53-53 with 3:35 remaining.

Neither team scored over the next two minutes before Blue Demon junior point guard Lauren Prochaska hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:34 left to give her team the lead for good. The Bluejays decided to leave Prochaska, a below 20% 3-point shooter on the season, open to double team Brooke Schulte on the low block, but the Chicago native made them pay for it in crunch time.

“We trapped off of her most of the night,” Flanery said. “That was her only made three and Schulte had a pretty deep post-up on Jaylyn — we don’t mind one-on-one, but we were willing to double off of her on the same side. That wasn’t a breakdown.

“Schulte was having a hard time scoring over Jaylyn, but it was a fairly easy same side trap down. Lauren didn’t have to go a long way and Schulte is their best player. Prochaska had not hit a three in the game, and I thought had been moderately un-aggressive shooting perimeter shots, so I don’t have any issue with it.”

After Creighton came up empty on their next possession, Schulte got isolated at the top of the key and drove the lane to score off the glass, extending the lead to 58-53 with less than a minute to go. Audrey Faber’s fourth 3-pointer of the game cut it to 58-56 with 25 seconds on the clock, but there would be no last-second heroics for the Bluejays on this night. DePaul freshman guard Kelly Campbell knocked down a pair of free throws to secure the win and a sweep of the season series to put the Blue Demons one game-ahead of Creighton atop the Big East standings.

In the first meeting in Chicago, DePaul outscored Creighton by 20 in second chance points. In Friday’s rematch it was the Bluejays who came away with a 9-7 edge in that category, but it wasn’t enough to come away with a win that would have put them alone in first place in the league. Although that left a bitter taste in their mouths after the game, the improvements made between the two meetings with the Blue Demons leave somewhat of a positive outlook for the rest of league play.

“It’s pretty disappointing because we know that we can win that game,” Janning said. “That’s a positive too. We know we can win that game because of the improvements that we’ve made in the three weeks since we played them. Even though we lost we need to keep doing those things that we improved on. Just because we lost doesn’t mean we can take two steps back. We have to keep pushing forward, because we have Marquette, Villanova, and Georgetown [coming up], and those are three huge games. We can’t let this loss affect us. It has to make us better if anything.”

Top Performers

DePaul

  • Brooke Schulte: 14 points (6-14 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-4 FT), 10 rebounds, and 4 assists in 37 minutes
  • Jacqui Grant: 12 points (5-16 FG, 2-5 3FG), 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal in 35 minutes
  • Amarah Coleman: 10 points (6-11 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal in 35 minutes
  • Lauren Prochaska: 9 points (3-9 FG, 1-4 3FG, 2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 27 minutes

Creighton

  • Lauren Works: 9 points (4-11 FG, 1-5 3FG, 0-1 FT), 9 rebounds, and 4 assists in 39 minutes
  • Jaylyn Agnew: 10 points (4-10 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in 25 minutes
  • Marissa Janning: 8 points (4-14 FG, 0-4 3FG), 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in 35 minutes
  • Audrey Faber: 14 points (5-14 FG, 4-6 3FG) and 4 rebounds in 35 minutes

Next Game: vs. Marquette on Sunday, January 29 at 1:00 p.m. at D.J. Sokol Arena

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