DePaul defeats St. John’s in Conference Opener

By Nader Ihmoud

Students from Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Catholic Schools, who flooded McGrath Phillips Arena, 2323 N. Sheffield Ave., cheered loud and proud in blue shirts provided by DePaul University during the Blue Demons’ 69-52 victory over conference opponent St. John’s University’s Red Storm.

DePaul held its first Big East game of the season on “Chicagoland Field Trip Day,” during which the school reached out to CPS and CCS schools near DePaul and provided them with buses and T-shirts for a field day. The grammar school students got to experience a day on a college campus.

“It was a cool game to play,” said Doug Bruno, head coach of the Blue Demons. “St. John’s is red and we’re blue. It was cool to have all those blue shirts in the gym.”

Despite senior forward Keisha Hampton’s rough start to the game with 8 turnovers and shooting 0-5 from the field, DePaul won the game by 17 points.

“In the first half, I was anxious and not taking my time,” Hampton said. “[During the] second half, I looked to be more aggressive and hit a couple shots. When anybody hits a couple [of] shots, they start feeling themselves a little bit, and I hit a couple more.”

Hampton went on to knock down all four of her 3-point attempts in the second half and finished with a game high of 21 points closing out the game for

her team.

“It took her a full half to get going and 8 turnovers to warm her up. Once we got her going, you saw why she is truly an all-American,” Bruno said.

According to him, Hampton, who had one of her career best performances against Northwestern University on Nov. 27, with 32 points and 5 rebounds, had been dealing with an undisclosed medical situation. This forced Hampton’s practice time to be limited leading up to the game against St. John’s. Despite that, the senior did a “great job at taking over the game when it needed to be taken over,” Bruno said.

The Blue Demons also had help on the defensive end of the court—something DePaul is not known for—according to Bruno. The team applied a full-court pressure throughout the game on defense to go along with its man-to-man. The Red Storm was limited to 27 percent shooting from the floor while committing 17 turnovers that led to 19 Blue Demons points.

“I think it was very important that we worked very hard to wear them out. Our pressure isn’t there just to steal the ball,” Bruno said. “We were able to keep them at bay for about three quarters of the game, then at the end, we went zone, and I think the zone did a great job of bringing us home.”

DePaul also received a significant boost off the bench, in particular from senior guard Deanna Ortiz, who usually starts for the Blue Demons but began this game on the bench, following Bruno’s decision to go with a bigger lineup in his team’s conference-play opener.

“What I’m really proud of her about was her emotional stability of accepting the fact that we decided to go with a different lineup,” Bruno said.

Ortiz made three of the team’s eight 3-pointers to go along with eight rebounds.

“That [was] a very important win for us today,” Bruno said.