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Critical free throws push DePaul past Marquette in nailbiter

Chanise Jenkins and Jessica January came in clutch with over 50 percent of DePaul's points. But Marquette is a team who gave them a run for their money.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago, IL -- A back and forth final minute of the fourth quarter gave DePaul a scare, but they eventually came out on top thanks to the 46 combined points of Chanise Jenkins and Jessica January in the 91-86 victory over the Marquette Golden Eagles.

"Every single Big East tournament game is going to look like that [this game]," Coach Doug Bruno said.

"They [January and Jenkins] made key free throws down the stretch, but we woudn't have had a stretch if they didn't do all of the things they did throughout the game. They did the obvious, which is pass and score, but they also did the subtle little things. They got a lot of rebounds.

"They put their hands on a lot of balls. They really made the team go tonight," Bruno said.

Mckayla Yentz chucked up a three with 20 seconds to go and is fouled, but she sunk just one of the three free throws. DePaul would get the rebound with the one point lead, 85-84 and Chanise Jenkins is fouled. She dropped both shots, giving DePaul an 87-84 lead with 16.4 seconds left.

Erika Davenport made a layup to narrow it back to a one-point game, but Jenkins again was fouled and sunk both her free throws, 89-86 with 6.5 seconds left. Marquette turned the ball over, fouled Jenkins, who again sunk two free throws and gave DePaul the win.

DePaul's play was extremely sloppy with consistent turnovers and lack of offensive rebounding. This allowed Marquette to go on a 12-5 run in the, tightening the deficit to just three with 3:45 left in the third quarter, forcing a DePaul timeout. Jenkins, however, came roaring back with crucial layups to again widen the gap back to nine with the Blue Demons leading going into the fourth.

It took some time for DePaul to find their perimeter shot. The first basket for the Blue Demons came at the 7:20 mark of the first quarter, longer than their previous three matchups.

Poor shot choice and bad across-the-court passes from the top of the key allowed Marquette to gain an early lead. Jenkins put DePaul back in their groove with back-to-back deep field goals, four of her total 25 points on the night; at the end of the first, DePaul led 25-16.

Megan Podkowa, a recent espnW and USBWA Player of Week winner, finally became comfortable on the block, racking up her fourth double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds on the night; she also had four blocks on the night.

Bruno said, "She's doing what she's always done. She's a subtle good player; she doesn't jump at you."

The second quarter was more of the same intensity from DePaul: pound from the perimeter and deny second chances. DePaul used a full court offense to quicken the pace of the game, flustering Marquette.

January found her jumper in the second quarter as well, putting up 21 points on the night. DePaul's defense applied consistent ball pressure, but fouls was their downfall, causing fouls on the arc and down low that Marquette capitalized on halfway through the second quarter.

Those free points from the stripe gave Marquette a tremendous amount of momentum, thanks to Amani Wilbourn's 10  points on the night. Marquette began to use the full court offense as well, which threw DePaul off in the second quarter. Marquette narrowed the gap to seven going into halftime, down 46-39.

That momentum died down, as DePaul and Marquette went point-for-point and turnover-for-turnover going into the third quarter. Allazia Blockton and Danielle King exchanged a beautiful three-man weave-esque play off a steal, giving Blockton the points and King the assist.

After that, the full court defensive pressure from Marquette came out at full speed. The Golden Eagles brought a physical and fast-paced full-court defense that DePaul was not ready for at all.

All of this led to that eventful fourth quarter, where DePaul found their way to get the victory with the help of Jenkins and January. DePaul is now 1-0 in conference play and 9-5 on the season. Marquette is 0-1 in conference play and 5-7 on the season.

DePaul's next matchup is on Jan 3 on the road at St. John's. Marquette's next game is also on Jan 3 on the road against Seton Hall.