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Blue Demons Cruise Past Xavier in BIG EAST Opener, 87-60
Jasmine Penny scored 27 to lead DePaul to a win in its BIG EAST opener on Wednesday.

Jasmine Penny scored 27 to lead DePaul to a win in its BIG EAST opener on Wednesday.

Jan. 1, 2014

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CHICAGO – As everyone in McGrath-Phillips Arena celebrated the New Year on Wednesday, DePaul picked up right where it left off in 2013.

Led by Jasmine Penny’s 27 points and three blocks along with Brittany Hrynko’s 19 points, the Blue Demons knocked off Xavier 87-60 in both teams’ BIG EAST Conference season opener. It was the sixth win in a row for coach Doug Bruno’s ballclub that improved to 10-3 while Xavier dropped to 5-8.

“Jasmine is a special person to coach,” Bruno said. “She allows herself to be coached and is always trying to get better.

“Our winning streak is a direct reflection of Brittany looking to be a facilitator. Helping to facilitate the offense doesn’t have to be at the exclusion of scoring. It was good to have her scoring mojo back.”

After trailing by 11 points at halftime, the Musketeers scored the first six points of the second half to pull within 41-36. That was the closest they would get as Hrynko responded with five points in a row.

Penny’s 17 points in the first half had Xavier opening the second half with an extra player shading towards the Blue Demon senior forward.

“I came out ready to play, and our guards did a great job of getting me the ball,” said Penny who has scored 56 points in the last two games. “I was running the floor, and I can’t get anything unless the guards get me the ball inside.”

Textbook ball movement swung it around to a wide-open Jessica January (13 points, four rebounds, four assists) for a three-point swish. Chanise Jenkins (nine points, seven rebounds, five assists) followed with a steal and assist on Megan Podkowa’s layup. Another Jenkins steal and January’s jumper made it 58-42.

Back-to-back Hrynko three-pointers broke the game wide open as DePaul finished off a 17-4 run in seizing a 64-44 lead midway through the second half. Several possessions later, baskets by Hrynko, Jenkins and Penny increased the lead to 25. Hrynko is one point shy of becoming a career 1,000-point scorer.

“I was out there taking what the defense was giving me,” said Hrynko who also had three rebounds and three assists. “I wasn’t trying to force anything.”

Bruno looked over at his junior guard.

“The question is, where will she play at the next level?” Bruno said. “It will be as a guard who facilitates and can also score. This game is simple. Get open and shoot. If you’re not open, get your teammates the ball.”

Playing its first home game since a 90-76 victory over Dartmouth that initiated the winning streak, DePaul got off to a fast start behind Penny’s 14 points in the first 10 minutes that included a pair of three-point plays.

Penny’s prowess led to an early 14-2 run as the Blue Demons pulled out to a 15-point advantage. Xavier’s seven unanswered points left the Musketeers trailing 25-17. The visiting team came within six with less than four minutes until halftime.

A 6-1 burst restored an 11-point margin. After a Shatyra Hawkes three-pointer, Penny scored the final three points of the first half for a 41-30 lead.

DePaul’s next game is a 4 p.m. tipoff Saturday at BIG EAST opponent Creighton that will be televised by FOX Sports 1.

Notes: DePaul improves to 6-3 in BIG EAST openers and has won four straight… reached the 80 point mark for the seventh time this season… Penny scored at least 20 points for the second consecutive game and reached double figures for the fourth-straight contest... Hrynko tied a season-high with four three-pointers... now has 154 career 3-pointers which ties Laura Sobieszczyk for ninth all-time… with a season-high 10 3-point field goal attempts, Hrynko now has 507 3-point attempts which moves her to sixth all-time… Hrynko finished the game one point shy of 1,000 points for her career... DePaul posted at least 10 steals for the fourth straight game... DePaul extends its season-long win streak to six... DePaul has tallied 20 or more assists in seven games this season… the Blue Demons beat Xavier in its first-ever BIG EAST Conference meeting between the two schools and now lead 6-1 in the all-time series... DePaul improves to 6-3 in conference openers as a BIG EAST member and won its fourth straight.