Blue Demons Head to Las Vegas for "Duel in the Desert" Tournament
Megan Rogowski enters the "Duel in the Desert" as DePaul's leader scorer at 15.4 points per game.

Dec. 17, 2013

CHICAGO – Megan Rogowski, Chanise Jenkins and their Blue Demon teammates bid adieu to the snow and frigid conditions in the Windy City and jetted off to Las Vegas on Tuesday where the Sin City forecast called for partly sunny skies and a high of 66 degrees.

The five-day trip to the land of neon lights and casinos features a visit to Hoover Dam, taking in the Cirque du Soleil show and competing in the “Duel in the Desert” women’s basketball tournament Thursday-Saturday at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion.

The team will be staying at the glamorous New York-New York Hotel & Casino and hopping aboard the “Big Apple Coaster” with its 180-degree “heartline” twist and dive maneuver.

“I am definitely going on the roller coaster,” Jenkins said.

“Hopefully, we’ll get the whole team to ride the roller coaster,” added Rogowski. “We also want to get coach Doug Bruno to ride the roller coaster.”

And Bruno wants anything but a roller-coaster performance from his team in Las Vegas.

“We’re going through a stretch of playing four games in six days, and this is a very important part of the season as we come closer to the start of BIG EAST play,” Bruno said of the 5-3 Blue Demons. “It’s an opportunity to play good teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (Pittsburgh), the Pac 12 (Washington) and the Sun Belt (Louisiana-Monroe).”

In the 2 p.m. game on Thursday, Pittsburgh (6-4) will attack DePaul behind Brianna Kiesel who is averaging nearly 16 points a game and Asia Logan who is averaging 11.6 points and 7.3 rebounds.

On Friday, the Blue Demons will face a balanced Washington (3-3) team at 4:30 p.m. that features Jazmine Davis (17.5 points a game), Kelsey Plum (16.8), Talia Walton (15) and Aminah Williams (9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds).



Saturday’s opponent is Louisiana-Monroe (4-5) which is led by 6-foot, 1-inch Ashleigh Simmons averaging 17.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. Tipoff is set or 4:30 p.m.

“We’ve taken trips to Hawaii and the Virgin Islands in past years,” said Rogowski, who leads DePaul at 15.4 points per game. “The thing about events like this is there will be a lot more eyes on us. It’s a good opportunity for us to show people how good we are and how good we can be.”

Playing three games in three days will certainly test the Blue Demons’ stamina.

“It will be a grind, but we can’t let that get to our heads,” Rogowski said. “In practice, we do a lot of conditioning, and our style of play has us running constantly up and down the court the whole time. We run on offense and press on defense. We’re accustomed to running around a gym."

Jenkins nodded her head in agreement.

“This could be an advantage for us with the way we play,” said Jenkins who is averaging 9.3 points and 5.5 assists. “Nobody in the tournamnt will get much rest between games.

“When you win a game, you can’t wait to get back on the court and win the next one. You win all three games and it gives you confidence for the rest of the season.

“This will be good preparation for us to get ready for the BIG EAST tournament where you’ve got to play hard in back-to-back-to back games.”

Bruno is hoping this visit to Las Vegas will have an impact like the 2009 trip.

“The last time we played at the Duel in the Desert was in 2009,” Bruno said. “We had just gotten beat by No. 2 Stanford in California and had to make a decision that would have a huge impact on our season. Do we go back and home and then travel to Vegas or stay out West?

“We chose to stay, and I believe those 11 days bonding together built the foundation for our NCAA Sweet 16 team the following season. On that trip, we visited the Redwood Forest, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and other tourist attractions. We also took in a Las Vegas show.

“Bouncing back from the Stanford loss, we beat Arkansas 46-45 at the Duel in the Desert opener. We followed that with a 75-60 win over No. 10/6 Florida State and then beat UNLV 82-48 for the title. Sam Quigley was named tournament MVP and Anna Martin made the all-tournament team.

“That was a pivotal point in our season. Sam, Keisha Hampton and Felicia Chester along with a couple of freshmen in Anna and Katherine Harry really began to emerge as a team."

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