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Blue Demons Pull Away From Hartford

CHICAGO Deirdre Naughton poured in 35 points to lead DePaul over Hartford, 80-71, in the championship game of the DePaul Invitational on Saturday. The junior guard picked up MVP honors while Keisha Hampton and Sam Quigley were named to the All-Tournament Team.

The first half played even until Hartford scored on back-to-back possessions. Mary Silvia’s three-pointer from the right wing pushed the lead to 24-16 forcing Doug Bruno to call a time out with 10:25 left in the opening half.

Coming out of the break, Naughton hit a jumper and the Blue Demons forced a shot clock violation for the Hawks. China Threatt kept the run going when she found Natasha Williams on the block for a turnaround jumper off the glass with less than eight minutes left to pull the Blue Demons to within four at 24-20.

The two sides traded baskets over the next four minutes until Naughton converted a driving lay-up and a short jumper to knot the game at 30-30 as the clock ticked past four minutes left. With the half winding down, Rachel Pierson gathered a rebound and put it back in to push DePaul ahead, 35-34, before Naughton scored on a lay-up to give the Blue Demons a three-point halftime lead.

DePaul held the advantage into the second half before a three-pointer by Lisa Etienne and a three-point play by Katie Kelley put the Hawks ahead, 52-47, midway through the second period.

Hartford (3-1) held a 55-49 lead before the Blue Demons scored 14 straight points to take the lead for good. Naughton started the run with five straight points on a three-point play and a jumper before a Felicia Chester free throw and a bucket by Hampton. China Threatt hit two jumpers and her second made the score, 63-55, in favor of the home team.

The Hawks answered with four straight points of their own, but would get no closer over the final five minutes of regulation. DePaul (4-1) led by as many as 11 points in the final minute before two free throws by Chester sealed the 80-71 final.

Naughton knocked down four three-pointer and went 7-for-7 from the free throw line en route to a DePaul-best 35 points. Quigley added 11 points, six assists and three rebounds while Hampton scored 10 points with three rebounds and three blocked shots. Threatt totaled six assists, four points and led the Blue Demons with five rebounds.

Lisa Etienne led Hartford with 14 points while Amanda Weaver added 12. Etienne joined DePaul’s Hampton and Quigley on the All-Tournament Team along with Chante Black of Duke and Tenesha Brown from Southern.

In the consolation game, Duke jumped on Southern from the start and never looked back in a 92-52 win. The Blue Devils held a 50-18 advantage at halftime and led by as many as 43 points in the second half.

DePaul returns to McGrath Arena on Friday night against Illinois State. The Redbirds and Blue Demons square off at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Park.

Game Notes: Deirdre Naughton’s 35 points were the most for her in a DePaul uniform... she set a career high of 37 as a freshman at Wake Forest in Feb. 2006... the win was the 70th for DePaul in the last three-plus seasons (70-33, .680)... DePaul is now 90-5 (.947) in the last eight-plus seasons when scoring at least 80 points... Saturday was the first meeting between the two programs.