Blue Demons Stumble at Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – DePaul’s run of 14 straight wins against schools from the state of Illinois ended in Champaign on Wednesday night with a 71-67 loss to Illinois. With the loss, the Blue Demons stand at 3-2 while Illinois improved to 4-0. Jenni Dant led four players in double-figures for DePaul with 15 points.
The game started with each team trading baskets. Illinois’ Angelina Williams scored six points to keep the Illini a point behind DePaul at 7-6 just under 16 minutes left in the first half. Illinois took their first lead of the game on a lay-up by Britt Leonard at 14:43, but Laura Sobieszczyk answered with DePaul’s first three to take back the lead for the Blue Demons.
After a turnover by Illinois, Kustok converted a three-point play that upped the lead for the Blue Demons to 15-10. Tiffanie Guthrie ended the DePaul run with a pair of free throws at the 13-minute mark.
Gutherie gave Illinois a brief lead at 18-17 before the Blue Demons broke down the Illinois pressure and scored two lay-ups for a 21-18 advantage at the 8:20 mark of the first stanza. After a pair of Illinois buckets, Ashley Luke’s three-pointer put DePaul back on top, 24-22. The Fighting Illini scored 14 of the game’s next 16 points to go into the intermission leading, 36-26. DePaul was scoreless during the run until Lindsay Forsberg hit a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left in the half.
The second stanza started with both teams trading baskets before the Blue Demons put together a six-point run to pull to within five points at 49-44 with 11:53 left in the game. Charlene Smith, Dant and Jamie Smith hit consecutive buckets during the run. After two Jamie Smith free throws, Brett Leonard ended the run with a free shots that made the score 51-46.
Charlene Smith’s three-point play at 7:16 cut the lead back to five points before the Fighting Illini ran off four straight to go back ahead 63-54. A Dant free throw brought DePaul to within four before Cindy Dallas scored twice with just over four minutes left in the game.
With 2:26 left in the game, Dant hit a jumper at the free throw line to bring DePaul within four points again at 69-65.
After Guthrie missed a pair of free throws, Charlene Smith drove the length of the floor and hit a tough lay-up to cut the lead to two points with one minute remaining on the clock. On Illinois’ next possession, the Blue Demons forced a bad pass. With under 30 seconds left in the game, DePaul couldn’t find anything offensively and Luke’s pass was intercepted by Guthrie. Guthrie knocked down both free throws to seal the game for Illinois.
Dant led DePaul with 15 points while Luke and Charlene Smith chipped in 12 points apiece. Jamie Smith added 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds. DePaul plays their first home game of the season on Friday night when they host Loyola in the first round of the Moran Realty Classic. Boston University and Montana State kick off the action at 6 p.m.