The DePaul Blue Demons beat the Seton Hall Pirates 86-74, Tuesday night in a game that was full of unique twists and turns.
The first quarter unfolded with strength and aggression between both teams, and it was Seton Hall's Tiffany Jones who put points on the board with a layup. It went back and forth multiple times, each team making a basket until the Pirates' accuracy fell due to DePaul's defense smothering the key players in the Seton Hall offense.
The Blue Demons were quick to shut down the likes of Aleesha Powell, Shakena Richardson, and Big East Player of the Week, Tabitha Richardson-Smith, giving them little to no time to even find a passing lane. DePaul's Jacqui Grant, Jessica January, and Chanise Jenkins created space and opportunities for DePaul bringing the score to a 21-16 at the end of the first quarter.
"They came out, they hit us, and we hit back, we just have to go out and play the way we play, and if we do that, we will see a much better result," said Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella.
The Pirates started the second quarter and despite a lot of aggression and energy -- they were inconsistent on capitalizing on opportunities that led them to trail for the majority of the first half.
January's complete awareness really helped the Blue Demons defense in shutting down the Pirates' offense. Players like Jordan Mosley, LaTecia Smith and Jordan Molyneaux, attempted to help the Pirates offense with a few points here and there, but not enough to make a dent in the scoring gap.
DePaul's quickness and ability to find open passing lanes, is what caused them to balloon the lead to over 20. At the end of the first half of play, the score was 50-26, DePaul leading.
The Blue Demons started the second half with a jump shot from Grant. Megan Podkowa broke the chain of multiple missed shots between both teams with an impressive 3-pointer.
"Aggressiveness. Toughness. That is what was the difference. They were a lot tougher than us and a lot more aggressive. We made stupid mistakes, and we weren't aggressive, at all.," said Bozzella.
Richardson-Smith found multiple opportunities in the third, which was capped off with a 3-pointer with 5:42 left, bringing the score to 33-58.
Richardson-Smith proved exactly why she's Big East Player of the Week, after she rallied her team back with 3:16 left in the game, as she and Powell had consecutive baskets. And even though the Pirates still trailed, Walsh Gymnasium was in an uproar at the Pirates' rally.
But even with the renewed excitement for the Seton Hall fans, DePaul's dynamic backcourt of January and Jenkins, continued to prove to be quell the hopes of the Pirates by continuously making plays. But, Powell, Richardson-Smith, Richardson, and Jones responded, as they all had answers, forcing multiple turnovers and were able to capitalize numerous times, bringing the score to under 20. andhe fans to their feet, as they seized a potential change in momentum.
Seton Hall started the fourth quarter and after a foul by January, Powell was brought the line and also bringing the gap on the scoreboard closer: 52-66; the Pirates won't be brought down that easily.
With eight minutes left in the game, that's when both teams brought the heat. Basket after basket, the Blue Demons and the Pirates fought tooth and nail: DePaul to keep the lead, and Seton Hall to close the gap. The intensity from the fans was enough to help throw off the Blue Demons, but they were still able to keep the lead.
However, the energy was more than sufficient for Powell, Richardson, and Richardson-Smith to feed off of and give the fans what they want. Richardson-Smith found multiple 3-pointer opportunities to bring the score 69-78 and for DePaul to start to shake.
"We just need to grow up. These next games are going to be tough. Welcome to the tough games of the Big East. We just need to mature," said Coach Bozzella.
Ashton Millender and Brooke Schulte for the Blue Demons found a few opportunities to help maintain the lead while January and Jenkins continued to wreak havoc, causing multiple Seton Hall turnovers.
With 50 seconds left, Powell found herself with a 3-pointer, but Richardson committed a foul bringing Jenkins to the line and the score a bit out of reach; 84-72. Seton Hall just couldn't recover from the sloppy start despite their spark of life in the fourth quarter, as they lost 86-74
Seton Hall plays Saturday, January 9th at St. John's starting at 2:00 pm. DePaul University plays again Friday, January 8th at home against Georgetown at 7:00 pm.
Note: DePaul's star Jessica January had a triple-double.