Anna Martin scored 14 points and dished out seven assists in DePaul's 87-57 win over Nicholls State on Friday.
Nov. 9, 2012
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CHICAGO - All the hoopla and anticipation of a season opener was heightened Friday night when the Blue Demons took the court at McGrath-Phillips Arena in memory of a beloved former assistant coach.
And somewhere up above, Maggie Dixon unleashed a jubilant fist pump after No. 25 DePaul triumphed over Nicholls State 87-57 in its opener of the Maggie Dixon Classic.
That sends the Blue Demons onto a 7 p.m. title game on Saturday against Dayton.
The dynamic Dixon spent five years in Lincoln Park inspiring women's basketball players to new heights and making a profound impact on anyone who entered her world.
She became the first female head coach of women's basketball at West Point and led Army to its first NCAA tournament appearance. She converted a male-dominated culture of non-believers and skeptics into loyal partisans that stormed the court after clinching the Patriot League tournament title.
Less than a month later, Dixon passed away at the age of 28 from heart arrhythmia.
"I never got a chance to meet Maggie, but from the impression she left at DePaul, she was a phenomenal person," said Anna Martin, who finished with 14 points, seven assists and three steals. "It's an honor to play in this tournament, and tonight was a great way to start our season."
This was also a welcome-back night for Martin, the All-American who sat out two preseason games.
"I wouldn't say I was rusty," Martin said. "But I like using the preseason games to get ready for the regular season. I'm hoping to play better tomorrow night."
Brittany Hrynko picked up right where she left off last season, finishing with 18 points, six assists and two steals.
"I was really impressed by how Britt is learning how to manage a game," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. "It's not just beating your defender and making a beautiful play. She is doing the whole job of managing a team.
"Chanise Jenkins (seven points, four assists, three steals) really did well out there. Chanise and Brittany give us a very good guard combination and I could see bringing them in together to start games."
The Colonels opened the second half with a 10-1 run in cutting into DePaul's 48-27 lead after the first 20 minutes.
The Blue Demons uncharacteristically went nearly six minutes without scoring a basket. Martin finally broke through with a steal and layup for a 51-37 lead.
Three baskets by Jasmine Penny, two from Hrynko and two more from Martin along with a Megan Podkowa three-pointer ignited a 20-5 Blue Demon surge in the middle of the second half en route to a 69-42 lead.
"I thought Megan Podkowa (nine points, nine rebounds) came off the bench and played well," Bruno said. "Kelsey Reynolds also gave us a lift off the bench."
After a slow start that allowed Nicholls State to draw even at 12-12 early in the first half, DePaul went on a game-defining 36-15 run to close out the half.
Hrynko was in the center of the action, swishing a trio of three-pointers and setting up teammates with her playmaking.
Katherine Harry (11 points, nine rebounds) began taking charge down low while Jenkins and Reynolds provided a nice spark off the bench.
Even as Martin worked to get back into sync, DePaul built up a 48-27 halftime advantage.
Notes: DePaul improves to 30-9 all-time in its season openers and are 23-4 when playing on its home court... Doug Bruno improves to 21-6 all-time in the first game of the season... DePaul has won its last six season openers... DePaul had 22 assists on 33 baskets... seven assists by Anna Martin is the most since she had eight against Arizona State on Dec. 16, 2011... 12 of Brittany Hrynko's points came from behind the arc... she was 4-of-9 with all four triples coming in the first half.