Last season's BIG EAST Conference Tournament defending champion DePaul Blue Demons will not be four-peating. The Villanova Wildcats beat DePaul 78-72 in overtime.
DePaul started out strong, jumping to a 22-12 first quarter lead. The second and third quarters belonged to Villanova, as they outscored DePaul 43-23 to take a 55-45 lead going into the final quarter. DePaul wasn't done though, as they came back to tie the game with just seconds on the clock to send it to overtime. Unfortunately for the Blue Demons, they missed too many shots and Villanova was able to pull out a six point victory to advance in the tournament.
DePaul Coach Doug Bruno started the post-game presser by stating, “Villanova did a great job tonight. And Coach Dillon does a great job with the basketball team, and the Nova players really did a great job. Maddy Siegrist is a great basketball player, as is Brianna Herlihy and Sarah Mortensen. They really do have three very tough players to guard. We've not defended well down the stretch this season. We didn't defend well tonight.”
When I asked Coach Bruno about DePaul's season in the pandemic era, he responded, “I'm very proud of our players on the pandemic front. These players came back here August 2nd. They got on the floor August 7th. And we are really proud to be the only team in the Big East not to have to be
put on pause. And at the same time I don't say that as a badge of honor or meant in any condescending way toward our comrades in the Big East who have been put on pause. So I don't mean that at all. So, I am very proud of our players for our COVID discipline and putting themselves in position to not having been paused. And at the same time as long as a program that gets paused doesn't have players that are really, really sick, it's just a crazy year. So you deal with what – you deal with your situation, and we weren't put on pause and our players were really, really good about their COVID discipline once we got back to the season. So I'm really proud of them for being this COVID-disciplined as they were.”
Villanova Coach Denise Dillon spoke on beating the defending champs, “We're fired up to have pulled that win off. I thought our team, with the exception of the beginning, that first quarter, did everything we needed to give ourselves a chance to win and kept their heads even going into overtime. And there was just a calm presence. And a lot of that credit goes to this one here on my right, just keep leading the team with her play. But I commented to her, to Maddy, telling her it just felt she kept the team together and just remained poised from start to finish. So you get big wins like this when your leader is charging the force. So it's good stuff for the Cats.”
Siegrist followed by echoing those sentiments, “You know, DePaul's been such a force in the Big East. They have so much success with their program. So a win like that means a lot.”
For the game, DePaul shot 36.6% from the field, 30.4% from three point land and 76.5% from the free throw line. Villanova shot 44.4%, 37.9% and 68.8% in those categories. The main team stat categories were pretty close, with the exception of fast break points, which Villanova won 18-8. Points in the paint went to DePaul (30-28), as did points from the bench (11-8). The teams tied on points off of turnovers (12-12). Villanova also outscored DePaul on second chance points (12-9).
Madison Siegrist led Villanova with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Deja Church paced DePaul with 19 points, while Darrione Rogers grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the team.
As a reward for defeating DePaul, Villanova gets to face UConn tomorrow in a Semifinal game. Coming off a big 77-41 thrashing of St. John's, UConn is the favorite to take the game and the tournament, but by beating DePaul, who has won the last three BIG EAST Conference Tournaments, Villanova proved they are up for the challenge.
In the post-game presser, Coach Bruno discussed the game and the season, along with talking about the chances for DePaul making the NCAA tourney. Coach Bruno was his usual classy self in the presser. He ended his session thanking the press for covering women's sports.
Below is Coach Bruno's media session. For the rest of the sessions for all coaches, go to the BIG EAST YouTube channel.
Go to DePaulBlueDemons.com for more info on the team. Also check here, GlobalTravelerUSA.com, Patch.com and GlobalWomensSportsRadio.com for my coverage of the Blue Demons.