Blue Demons win important conference game

By Nader Ihmoud

With less than one minute remaining in the game, the crowd began celebrating the No. 22-ranked DePaul University Blue Demons’ (18-7) victory by singing “Happy Birthday” to junior guard Anna Martin Feb. 8 at McGrath-Phillips Arena, 1313 N. Sheffield Ave.

Together Martin and forward Katherine Harry scored 48 of their team’s points in the 79-73 victory over the Villanova University Wildcats. Blue Demons Head Coach Doug Bruno said it is always a hard-fought victory each time his team faces the Wildcats.

“It comes down to a couple possessions,” Bruno said. “We had to make some plays down the stretch.”

In a game that was close much of the way, the Demons finally began to put some distance between themselves and their opponent late in the second half. DePaul finished off a 9-0 run with 11 minutes left, giving the team a 60-50 lead.

For Bruno, the key in the second half was stopping Wildcats forward Laura Sweeney, who averaged 15 points a game heading into the Big East Conference matchup and scored 19 points in the first half.

After Sweeney scored 9 points in the first three minutes, Bruno benched Harry.

“[Harry] just hunkered down after we had to give her some seat time,” he said. “I thought she did a lot better job after getting a chance to watch [Sweeney] from the bench.”

According to Bruno, adjustments made at halftime were not made to guard Sweeny, but instead to get the ball to the center of the floor.

Harry excelled on both ends of the court. In addition to holding Sweeney to only 3 points in the second half, she tallied a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Martin led all scorers with 24 points. But the biggest factor in the matchup came down to points in the paint, where the Blue Demons outscored the Wildcats 40-24.

The unorthodox defense of the Wildcats made it difficult to find space on the floor to score.

“They were half zone, half man [and] sometimes zone, sometimes man, so you really had to let the players find their spots and find their openings, and [Harry and Martin] did a great job tonight,” Bruno said.

Following the 90-70 loss to the second ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish Feb. 5, Bruno told his team it needs to “win one in a row six times.”

The two juniors have been doing well this year despite their teammates’ injuries. Martin and Harry have been thrust into a role of leadership, according to Bruno.

“When this time of year comes, it’s hard,” Martin said. “[I’m] telling everybody they are doing a great job and they need to keep it up, and that we can make a noise in the tournament if they do.”

The first round of the NCAA women’s tournament will be hosted by DePaul.