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Blue Demons Stumble in BIG EAST Opener



CHICAGO Visiting Pittsburgh handed DePaul its second home loss in as many games with a 97-68 defeat in the BIG EAST opener for both teams. The loss marks just the fourth time in McGrath Arena history that the Blue Demons have lost two consecutive games and gives DePaul is third loss in the last four games.

Pittsburgh (11-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) knocked down six of its first seven shots to take an early 12-8 lead. Three-pointers by Allie Quigley and Deirdre Naughton sandwiched a basket by Natasha Williams to tie the game at 16-16 just under eight minutes into the action.

The Panthers built a six-point lead before two Quigley free throws cut the deficit to 30-27 with 7:23 until halftime.

Following the Quigley free throw, Pittsburgh closed the half with a 13-2 run to give the visitors a 43-29 lead at the intermission.

Shavonte Zellous put Pittsburgh up by 21 points with a layup before Jania Sims knocked down a jumper to make the score 60-37.

DePaul (11-3, 0-1 BIG EAST) attempted to make a comeback as Natasha Williams scored on a layup and then hit two free throws to trim the margin to 67-54. Pittsburgh answered by scoring on three straight possessions and maintained control of the remainder of the afternoon.

Caprice Smith and Quigley led DePaul with 15 points each while Naughton added 13 and Williams chipped in 10 points. Naughton grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Smith added eight boards for the Blue Demons and China Threatt scored nine points with three assists.

Pittsburgh was led by Zellous with a game-high 31 points while Marcedes Walker totaled a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double.

DePaul hits the road in BIG EAST play next weekend at Providence. The Blue Demons and Friars play on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 1 p.m. ET.

Game Notes: Allie Quigley moved into a tie for fifth all-time in scoring... her 1,722 points tie her with Sally Anderson (1984-87)... Quigley passed Anderson for fourth with her 355th career assist... the back-to-back losses at McGrath Arena mark just the fourth occurrence in eight seasons (103 games) of two straight home losses... DePaul is now 1-2 all-time in BIG EAST openers... the Blue Demons are 44-of-52 (.846) from the free throw line in the last three games... Pittsburgh now leads the series, 3-2, and has won the last two meetings.