The DePaul Blue Demons ran into a buzzsaw in the Louisville Cardinals, falling 116-75 before an ESPN nationwide audience. Although DePaul hung close in the early stages, Louisville was in control virtually the entire game.
Louisville jumped out to a 30-26 lead at the end of the first quarter. Louisville's 14 point second quarter run broke open the game, leading to a 61-37 half time lead. A 40-17 third quarter sealed the game. Despite DePaul's fourth quarter 21-15 advantage, Louisville cruised to a relatively easy win.
Darrione Rogers led the Blue Demons with 25 points, followed by Dee Bekelja with 18 and Lexi Held with 12. Only five other Blue Demons got in the scoring column, with none reaching double digits.
Kianna Smith and Hailey Van Lith led the Cardinals with 21 points each. Three other Cardinals reached double digits and 11 total Cardinals scored.
With all due respect to Louisville on an impressive win, the victory wasn't the main story of this game. A few other aspects are my main focus.
First, I applaud Louisville Coach Jeff Walz, DePaul Coach Doug Bruno and both school's athletic departments for making this game happen. This game wasn't originally scheduled.
UConn was supposed to play Louisville in The Women's Jimmy V Classic, which annually raises money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. When UConn had to withdraw due to COVID issues, DePaul's Coach Bruno stepped up to the challenge. Several factors had to be ironed out, but ultimately all parties involved (including the Big East and Kent State) worked together to get this done.
Ths was a perfect example off the beauty of sports. All involved saw the bigger picture and collaborated for the good of all.
Second, a special applause to Coach Bruno and the Blue Demons. Facing Louisville on any night is a daunting task. Facing them on short notice in an unscheduled game is that much harder, but Coach Bruno did not hesitate to fill the void left by UConn's sudden absence.
Next, most folks would look at a 41 point loss as a beatdown. Most teams would be down after such a thrashing. The Blue Demons aren't most teams. Coach Bruno stated very clearly in the post-game presser that this will only benefit his team. He wanted this challenge. He wanted his team to go against the best. Certainly, Coach Bruno would rather have the win against Louisville, but this was a loss in name only. DePaul will win from this in the long term.
Last and definitely not least, great things were done for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. The extra fun started on the ESPN broadcast when Ryan Ruocco and Rebecca Lobo pledged $50 for each three-pointer. Upon learning of this, Coach Bruno pledged $50 for each three-pointer and every assist for both teams. Bruno’s total contribution will come to $2,300.
The V Foundation honors former North Carolina State Coach Jimmy Valvano who courageously battled cancer before passing at the age of 47. Bruno knew Valvano and his brother Nick. In the post-game presser, Coach Bruno spoke about the Valvano family and his money pledge. Coach Bruno was happy to “lose” that $2300.
As always, Coach Bruno ended the presser by thanking reporters for covering women's basketball. It's just a class act on his part.
DePaul now stands at 1-2. Their next game is against Xavier on Sunday, December 6 at 3 pm CST at Wintrust Arena.