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A (Jessica) January Christmas: DePaul wins Maggie Dixon Classic

Coming off a season-opening win over Appalachian State, DePaul turned around to defeat the University of Alabama Birmingham 90-80. The Blue Demons won the Maggie Dixon Classic and Jessica January was named tournament MVP after notching 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists tonight.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-St. John's vs DePaul David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Lincoln Park, Ill. DePaul’s Jessica January’s seniority played a huge role in her 25-point performance tonight, Nov. 12, as the Blue Demons defeated UAB by a final score of 90-80 in McGrath-Phillips Arena. January played 38 minutes and received MVP of the Maggie Dixon Classic.

“Another good job,” said DePaul head coach Doug Bruno. “Our players did enough. UAB was fearless, and they came after us. But our players did enough.”

Following Appalachian State’s third place victory in the Maggie Dixon Classic, DePaul and UAB took the stage in hopes of a preseason tournament championship. With an 8:52 p.m. CT tip off, instead of 8 p.m., McGrath-Phillips Arena knew they were in for a long night.

It took the Blue Demons a shocking minute and a half to score until Ashton Millender shot a pair of three’s for DePaul’s first points of the evening. After a 7-0 run, UAB head coach Randy Norton called a much-needed timeout for the Blazers.

Micah Scheetz and Imani Johnson came out of the timeout with something to prove. Scheetz sparked a 16-12 run, banking in six of her team’s 16 points in the first quarter. Johnson took advantage of the back door cut, also adding six crucial points to the stat sheet and pulling her team within four.

Millender started the second quarter the same way she began the first with a deep three for her ninth point of the night to extend the Blue Demons’ lead 22-16.

DePaul led by as much as 13 points in the second quarter with January and Millender drilling 11 points apiece. However, on the other side, the Blue Demons allowed a detrimental 24 points in the paint in the first half alone.

DePaul headed into the locker room leading 46-33.

Guess what? The third quarter also started with a three, this time by Brooke Schulte. But the rest of the quarter belonged to the Preseason Big East Player of the Year, January.

It’s hard to believe it is November when much of what the crowd heard in McGrath-Phillips Arena tonight was January. The senior guard had two impressive layups powering through the defenders in the paint. For her third straight bucket, January pulled up deep behind the arc for her 21st point of the night to end the third quarter.

“To watch her relentless pursuit of the game for 38 minutes without much rest,” Bruno said on the MVP’s performance. “That’s a big statement of how good of a basketball player and competitor Jessica January is.”

What do you know? DePaul started the fourth quarter with another three. Deja Cage came off of the bench giving her team a bigger cushion, 73-47, after nailing DePaul’s 10th three of the night.

Rachael Childress kept UAB alive with her hot hand shooting 12 points from behind the arc. Although the Blazers outscored DePaul 33-20 in the fourth quarter, the Blue Demons were still able to come out as champions. Millender (21), January (25), Claire McMahon (10), and Jacqui Grant (11) all scored in double figures.

To no surprise, January was named MVP as she led the Blue Demons with 25 points, seven assists and nine rebounds. How could those stats not win an MVP award?

“It’s about coming in every day, competing and working hard,” January said.

“She [January] is really special,” Bruno added. “She carried the team on her back through this whole tournament.”

We can all see January having fun out there doing what she loves to do, which is play basketball.

The Blue Demons will take on Northwestern next Saturday, Nov. 19, to defend their home court. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. CT.