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Blue Demons Hold Season-Ending Banquet



Final 2001-02 Statistics

CHICAGO - On Thursday, May 30, head coach Doug Bruno and the DePaul University Athletic Department recognized the team at the annual Women's Basketball Banquet.  Players were recognized for their achievements throughout the season on and off the court.

All-American Lenae Williams was named team MVP, but was unable to attend as she was making her professional debut with the Detroit Shock in Orlando.  Williams, Yolanda Lewis and Laura Sobieszczcyk were recognized with the Captain's Award while Jenni Dant received Most Improved honors.  Lewis, Sarah Kustok and Jamie Smith shared the Best Defensive player award.

Six players were honored with the Shirley Becker Academic Award and three earned the Cookie Gavin Coaches Award.  Christa Dirr, Kustok, Ashley Luke, Smith, Sobiesczcyk and Williams earned the Becker Award while the Gavin Award was given to Kustok, Lewis and Claudette Towers.

Statistical Award Winners
Best Rebounder - Jamie Smith (216 reb./7.4 rpg)
Free Throws - Lindsay Forsberg (.806 FT%)
Three-point Field Goals - Lenae Williams (93 3-pt. FG)
Three-point Field Goal Percentage - Laura Sobieszczyk (.413 3-pt. FG%)
Assists - Lenae Williams (68 assists)
Assist/Turnover Ratio - Laura Sobieszczyk (1.4 assists:turnovers)

Season Summary
For the third consecutive year, the DePaul Blue Demons ended the season in the WNIT on the floor of a Big Ten opponent. After losing at Wisconsin in 2000 and at Ohio State in 2001, the Blue Demons fell at Michigan State to end the 2002 campaign.

In spite of the Conference USA coaches picking them seventh, the Blue Demons raced out to a 7-1 league mark to gain a first-place tie halfway through the conference slate. However, a harsh non-conference schedule and a rash of injuries caught up with the squad as they dropped seven of the last eight games to finish the campaign 2001-02 at 15-14.

The season opened with the fifth annual Moran Realty Classic where DePaul knocked off Eastern Washington and Arkansas State to claim the championship. Senior forward Lenae Williams earned tourney MVP honors after scoring 41 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the two games. Sarah Kustok joined Williams on the All-Tournament team with 28 tournament points, 14 rebounds and eight three-pointers.

DePaul spent Thanksgiving weekend in Ames, Iowa, as a participant in the third annual Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge. Williams put together one of the top single-game performances in program history as she burned Iowa State for 41 points and eight three's. It wasn't enough as the Blue Demons lost to the sixth-ranked Cyclones, 79-75. Two days later, the club faced No. 2 Maryland and shot just .260 from the field in the 54-36 loss.

The Blue Demons ended the brief losing streak with four straight wins over Northwestern, Loyola-Chicago, Toledo and Illinois only to follow that run with losses at George Washington and against Purdue and Tennessee. In the span of three days, DePaul lost, 61-63, to No. 7 Purdue and, 66-80, to No. 2 Tennessee. Their average margin of defeat to top 10 teams in 2001-02 was 6.7 points per game.

Conference USA play opened with DePaul matching their best league start ever at 7-1. The Blue Demons won at Marquette, UAB and South Florida before winning the home opener against Memphis. After a two-point home loss against Saint Louis, the team reeled off three more home wins against Tulane, Southern Miss and Marquette.

Over the second half of the C-USA slate, DePaul managed just one victory in six tries. The Blue Demons dropped games at East Carolina, Charlotte, TUC and Houston. The lone win was an overtime game against Louisville that was followed by a loss to Cincinnati on Senior Day. Despite the second-half skid, they were able to hang on to the fourth seed and gain a first-round bye in the league tournament.

In the league tourney, the Blue Demons hung with a much deeper and bigger Tulane squad before falling, 83-88. DePaul finished the game with just five players after starting with only seven. Williams led all scorers with a tournament-high 32 points before fouling out with under a minute to play.

As a team, the Blue Demons set new program marks for three-pointers (230) and free throw percentage (.738). Williams earned honorable mention All-American honors and moved into third in NCAA history with 330 career three's. She was also named first team All-Conference USA while Jenni Dant picked up All-Freshman team honors.

Postseason Play
For the third consecutive season, the DePaul Blue Demons played in the postseason WNIT. In each of the last two seasons, DePaul has lost in the second round to the eventual champion. A year ago they fell to Ohio State, and in 2000, they lost at Wisconsin. This season they lost in the first round, 76-87, at Michigan State. The Spartans advanced to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Oregon. Over the last 14 seasons, DePaul is just one of 23 programs to play in the postseason at least 11 times.

The WNIT replaced the NWIT that ran from 1969-96. DePaul made four appearances in the NWIT and was crowned champions in 1988. Overall, the Blue Demons are a combined 8-9 in NIT action.

DePaul is one of three Conference USA schools to receive a WNIT bid as Houston reached the finals and Louisville lost in the first round at Ball State. Cincinnati, TCU and Tulane represented the league in the NCAA Tournament. Each of those programs won their first game before falling in the second round.

Noting the 2001-02 Campaign
The Blue Demons received votes in either the AP or USA Today/ESPN poll 14 of the 21 weeks this season... DePaul was 13-4 when leading at halftime and 12-4 when holding opponents to less than 70 points... on TV, DePaul was 5-1... DePaul is now 21-7 (.750) all-time at the DePaul Athletic Center... the Blue Demons averaged 7.9 three-point field goals per game while opponents had just 3.6... the Blue Demons set a school record with 15 treys against Lousiville and tied the previous record of 14 twice this season (at Iowa State and Michigan State)... DePaul was 10-5 when they had 5-to-9 three's in a game, but 4-5 when they made 10 or more... they knocked down at least eight three's in 17 games this season... the Blue Demons were outrebounded by 5.4 boards per contest... they outrebounded their opponents in nine games this season... Jamie Smith is third all-time at DePaul with 127 career blocked shots... her 79 blocks this season is third on the single-season chart... she recorded her first career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds at Houston... Jenni Dant followed Smith with 20 points and 11 boards against Tulane... Lenae Williams had the club's other double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds at Northern Illinois on Dec. 22... DePaul finished the Loyola game on Nov. 29 with just five players as two of the seven available fouled out... against Louisville, six played most of the game due to injuries... Lenae Williams' 41 points against then-No. 6 Iowa State was a career-high and the second-highest single-game total in school history... she scored at least 20 points in 18 of DePaul's 29 games, including six games of at least 30... twice this season, she scored at least 20 points in the first 12 minutes of the game (Southern Miss and Houston)... the team set a new program marks with 37 three-point attempts (14 made) at Iowa State... Williams tied her own school record with eight treys against the Cyclones... in their three losses to teams ranked in the top seven at gametime, the average margin of defeat is 6.7 points per game... DePaul opened the season by winning the Moran Realty Classic.

Best C-USA Start in Program History
The club opened the Conference USA schedule by winning seven of their first eight games to equal the start by the 1995-96 team that won the league's first regular season championship. However, the 2001-02 team lost five of their last six games to finish tied for fourth place.

DePaul opened the league schedule with wins at Marquette, UAB and South Florida. They returned home to knock off Memphis before being upset by Saint Louis. The Blue Demons bounced back and won three straight at home against Tulane, Southern Miss and Marquette to put them at 7-1 and tied for first place.

From that point, DePaul found the win column just one more time in an overtime win against Louisville at the DePaul Athletic Center. They also lost at home against Cincinnati and on the road at East Carolina, Charlotte, TCU and Houston.

Nothing But the Best
DePaul's final record of 15-14 could be a bit deceiving as six of the Blue Demons' losses came to teams ranked in the top 25 at game time. Of the six defeats, three were to teams ranked in the top seven in the country at game time.

In their three top seven defeats to Iowa State, Purdue and Tennessee, the Blue Demons lost by an average margin of just 6.7 points per game. DePaul dropped a 79-75 decision at No. 6 Iowa State on Nov. 21. In the span of three days in December, the Blue Demons lost, 63-61, to No. 7 Purdue and 80-66, to No. 2 Tennessee.

Three weeks after playing the Blue Demons, Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt mentioned in the Chicago Tribune, "No one in women's basketball runs a better motion offense than LSU or DePaul. DePaul shortens the game and uses the clock."

We'll Spot You a Dozen
Throughout this season and the last four years, DePaul has taken advantage of the three-point basket. In the last four years, they have made 841 (7.1/gm) compared to 394 (3.3/gm) for the opposition. Sharpshooter Lenae Williams tallied 330 treys by herself over that span.

In 2001-02, the Blue Demons averaged over four more three-point field goals per game than their opponents. As a team, the Blue Demons made 230 three's compared to just 105 for the opposition. The team total is ranked first on the single-season chart and the team three-point percentage of .356 is third. A year ago, the Blue Demons hit 202 three's and the 1999-00 squad knocked down 223 treys.

Conference USA Honor Roll
A pair of Blue Demons picked up Conference USA postseason awards prior to the league's tournament. Senior Lenae Williams was named first team All-Conference USA while Jenni Dant earned All-Freshman team mention.

Twice this year, Williams was named the Conference USA Player of the Week. She earned the honor for the second time after averaging 29.0 points and shooting .600 from the field in the two victories over Tulane and Southern Miss. Earlier in the season, she earned Co-Player of the Week honors after leading DePaul to three wins over Northwestern, Loyola-Chicago and Toledo. The Addison, Ill., native, averaged 28 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game in those three contests. Houston's Chandi Jones joined Williams in the league's weekly honor.

This marked the fourth time in her career that Williams has earned the league's weekly honor. She is just one of three players in DePaul history to win the Conference USA honor multiple times in her career. Former All-Americans Kim Williams and Latasha Byears was also named Player of the Week more than once. Kim Williams, no relation to Lenae, was a four-time winner while Byears was picked three times.

Fun With Numbers
- Individually, Lenae Williams moved into third in NCAA history with her four three's at TCU on Feb. 22. Of the top 25 all-time, Williams is the only player taller than 5'10".

- Williams' total of 93 three's this season was more than Memphis, Saint Louis and UAB of Conference USA. It also surpasses the season total of three teams in DePaul history (1987-88, 90-91, 93-94).

- This season she tied single-game three-point records in three different arenas. On Nov. 21, she tied her career-high of eight three's at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. A month later she tied the Chick Evans Fieldhouse record of six treys against Northern Illinois. On Feb. 8, she tied the Williams Arena record with seven three's at East Carolina. She also owned the Alumni Hall record of eight three's against Oregon on Dec. 22, 1999. Ironically, Williams doesn't hold the DePaul Athletic Center record as Marju Sober of Louisville knocked down eight trifectas in the 99-97 Cardinal overtime victory on Jan. 12, 2001.

- The sharpshooter is one of two players in Conference USA history with at least 90 three's in a season. With her four three's against Tulane, she accomplished the feat for the second time in her career. Cincinnati's Valerie King set the single-season record this season with 101 three's.

Strength of Schedule
Doug Bruno called this year's schedule the toughest ever at DePaul and CNNSI.com chose it the toughest in the Midwest. A glance at the '01-02 slate revealed three of the last five national champions, the two finalists from the 2001 Final Four and 11 teams that played in either the NCAA or WNIT tournaments this March.

The final top 25's have a DePaul flavor as six opponents from the AP and USA Today/ESPN polls are featured. A total of nine opponents are either ranked in the ESPN/USA Today poll or receiving votes for the top 25. DePaul has received votes for either poll in 14 of the 18 polls this season.

Making Some National Noise
In the 2001-02 NCAA statistical rankings, DePaul sharpshooter Lenae Williams was ranked among the national scoring and three-point leaders. She finished the campaign ranked sixth in the country with a 22.5 scoring average while posting two of the top single-game efforts this season.

Williams' 41-point outburst at No. 6 Iowa State on Nov. 21 was tied for the fourth spot on the single-game high chart this season with three other players. Her 39-point total against Illinois on Dec. 4 was the 10th-highest total this season along with Austin Peay's Brooke Armistead and Mississippi State's Latoya Thomas. Williams was just one of three players in the nation with at least 39 points in multiple games this season.

Her eight three's at Iowa State tied for second on the nation's single-game three-point chart with 14 other players. She ranked fourth in the country with 3.2 three-pointers per game. Williams dropped in 93 in DePaul's 29 games this season.

As a team, the Blue Demons were seventh with 7.9 three's per game while Jamie Smith's eight blocks at Northern Illinois tied for ninth with seven others on the single-game chart. Smith also ranked ninth among all players with 2.7 blocks per game. DePaul's combined .738 free throw percentage is 40th in the country while their school record 15 three's against Louisville is tied for third on the team single-game chart. Earlier this season, they drained 14 three's at Iowa State which place them in a tie for eighth with 14 other schools.

Preseason Picks
In the annual Conference USA preseason poll, the Blue Demons were picked to finish seventh. DePaul defied the predictions and earned a first-round bye as the fourth seed in the league's conference tournament in March. Lenae Williams was chosen as a member of the preseason and postseason first teams.

The Friendly Confines
In their second season playing at the DePaul Athletic Center, the Blue Demons hold a 21-7 home-court record. The program won over 75 percent of their home games in 26 seasons across the street at Alumni Hall.

This season opened with a pair of victories in the Moran Realty Classic followed by wins over Toledo and Illinois. A year ago, the Blue Demons were 12-2 with both loses coming in overtime games. The losses this season came to three top 25 teams in Purdue, Tennessee and Cincinnati. The other two defeats were a 50-48 loss to Saint Louis on Jan. 20 and an 88-83 decision to Tulane in the Conference USA Tournament.

Giving to Charity
Through this season, DePaul was a combined 384-520 (.738) from the free throw line while Lenae Williams made 98-of-123 (.797) free attempts. The DePaul team mark was tops in the league this season and second in Conference USA history. Earlier this season, Williams was a perfect 10-for-10 at Northwestern and 7-for-7 at UAB. She ranked sixth among all Conference USA players followed by Jenni Dant in eighth place at .774 overall. In the last 15 games, DePaul was a combined 217-of-282 (.770). Individually, Jenni Dant was 62-for-70 (.886) in Conference USA play while Lindsay Forsberg shot .806 (29-36) for the season.

Last year, the Blue Demons led Conference USA with a .716 overall mark from the free throw line. In league play, DePaul shot .733 and were 241-326 (.739) over their last 19 games. Williams ranked second in the league with an .827 (86-104) percentage from the stripe.

13 Straight Against the State
The Blue Demons have won 13 consecutive games against opponents from the state of Illinois over the last three seasons. This season, DePaul knocked off Illinois and Northern Illinois after defeating Northwestern and Loyola in November. A year ago, the club went a perfect 6-0 against state programs.

DePaul's last loss came on Dec. 10, 1999, when Illinois posted a 74-64 win over the Blue Demons in Champaign.

In addition to winning 13 consecutive games, DePaul has also won 20 of the last 21 contests with state schools. Over the stretch of 21 games, DePaul has defeated Loyola and Northern Illinois four times and Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, and Northwestern three times each. They have also knocked off Southern Illinois twice and Chicago State once.

New Addition
Prior to the trip to UAB and South Florida, head coach Doug Bruno added DePaul volleyball player Christa Dirr to the roster. Dirr, a 5-11 forward, joined the women's basketball team after playing four seasons for volleyball coach Dawn Dockstader.

In four seasons with the volleyball squad, Dirr ranked in the top five in DePaul history with 1,141 kills, a hitting percentage of .254, 120 solo blocks and 325 block assists. She was a two-time second team All-Conference USA selection as well as a three-time member of the league's Academic Honor Roll.

She earned All-District and All-Conference mention as a basketball player at McAuley High School in Cincinnati.

Injury Report
The Blue Demons battled the injury bug this season that left them with eight players available for most of the games. Laura Sobieszczyk missed the Conference USA Tournament with a strep infection that left DePaul with seven players against Tulane. The Blue Demons finished that game with five after two fouled out. That was the second time this season that DePaul has finished with a game five eligible players.

Sarah Kustok and Claudette Towers were the victims that caused DePaul to play with just six in the overtime win over Louisville. Kustok injured a calf muscle in the second half at Charlotte and missed the Louisville and Cincinnati games while Towers suffered a concussion during the practice before the Louisville game. She was able to play only eight minutes against the Cardinals, but came back for the entire game against Cincinnati. Volleyball player Christa Dirr, who added because of the injuries, was available for only six games as she battled a stress fracture in her left foot.

After missing the first nine games of the season, freshman forward Khara Smith suffered a torn ACL in her right knee at Notre Dame on Dec. 31 and missed the remainder of the season. Smith missed the nine games after she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left foot just before the first game of the season. At the time of her knee injury, she was averaging 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. In DePaul's two exhibition games, she registered a pair of double-doubles.

Just the before the beginning of practice, senior forward Latasha White injured her right knee and will miss the 2001-02 season. Last season, the junior college transfer averaged 1.3 points and 1.4 rebounds while playing in 21 games. Both Smith and White will sat out this season under medical hardships.

Regional Recognition
Prior to the start of the season, CNNSI.com ranked DePaul's 2001-02 schedule as the toughest in the Midwest. The slate features three teams currently in the AP top 10 and five teams in the ESPN/USA Today top 25. In addition to the team recognition, freshman guard Jenni Dant was listed as one of the "Five New Faces to Watch" in the region and was the only player of the five not from either the Big Ten or Big 12 conferences.

True Student-Athletes
Earlier this year, the Blue Demons were rewarded for their hard work in the classroom by being named to the WBCA Academic Top 25. The Blue Demons were ranked in the top 20 for the second time in the last three seasons. DePaul finished 13th in NCAA Division I basketball after placing 20th following the 1998-99 season. DePaul and UW-Green Bay were the only two schools that played in the postseason last season. The Blue Demons reached the second round of the WNIT while the Phoenix lost in the WNIT first round.

Tournament Fun
The 2001-02 season opened with a pair of four-team tournaments for the Blue Demons. DePaul opened the campaign by hosting the Moran Realty Classic before traveling to Ames, Iowa, for the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge.

Lenae Williams was named MVP of the Moran Realty Classic while leading DePaul to wins over Eastern Washington and Arkansas State. Sarah Kustok joined her on the all-tournament team.

The Blue Demons spent Thanksgiving in Ames and lost to host Iowa State and Maryland in the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge. Lenae Williams scored a career-high 41 points with eight three's against the Cyclones.

Jenni Dant's Jersey in Ring of Honor
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame has recently added DePaul freshman Jenni Dant's jersey to their Ring of Honor. The Ring of Honor recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of high school and collegiate All-Americans. The former Stevenson High School standout is in an exclusive group of 40 young women from across the country to have their jerseys currently displayed at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tenn., is the world's only hall of fame dedicated solely to the athletic achievements of women.

Looking Ahead
DePaul signed five players to a National Letter of Intent for next season. Three of the newcomers next season are from the Chicago area while the other two are from New York and Texas. The class features five forwards to go along with transfer guards Ashley Luke and Charlene Smith. Jarietta Benton, Lauren Levine, Shiesha McCollum, Casmir Patterson and Maureen Simon join Luke and Smith, who become eligible after sitting out this season.