March 18, 2017 5:56:42 PM
STARKVILLE -- Tonya Warren pulled Madison Weekly, Angie Davison, and Hannah Schonhardt to her side.
The four of them stood on the sideline of Humphrey Coliseum shortly after the Northern Iowa women's basketball team's 88-67 loss to DePaul in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Warren wanted to make sure her seniors, who had just played their final game, knew how much they meant to her and the program.
"We lost four fifth-year seniors from our starting lineup last year," said Warren, UNI's coach. "This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. For this team to have the success they've had says a lot about the three seniors that led us."
Weekly had a team-high 21 points, two assists, and two steals in 34 minutes. She paced her team despite not scoring in the first quarter.
"I needed to be more aggressive, and when I did get to the rim, I needed to finish through contact," Weekly said. "I was a little soft at the rim at the beginning."
Weekly was 6 of 15 from the field and 8 of 11 from the free-throw line.
Bruno family reunion
Michael Bruno wasn't watching ESPN when the NCAA unveiled the 64-team field for the women's basketball tournament, but he knew what was happening when his phone exploded.
Bruno has been teaching philosophy at Mississippi State for seven years. His uncle, Doug, has been the women's basketball coach at DePaul for 31. On Friday, Doug had a chance to visit Michael as part of his team's trip to Starkville for the NCAA tournament.
Michael Bruno said he was "bombarded" in a group text with his father and Doug's brother, Dennis, his stepmother, and Doug when it was revealed that DePaul would play in Starkville. Plans were made to have dinner Wednesday night at J Broussard's in Columbus. Michael showed up, a bit late, in a MSU hoodie. When he walked to the portion of the restaurant reserved for the team, a commotion ensued, along with light-hearted jokes, but DePaul knows it has Michael's support.
"I know where my loyalties are: the family," he said.
Michael Bruno has a close history with his uncle's program. He and his twin brother, Andy, used to work Doug Bruno's camps for younger basketball players when they were teenagers. Michael still makes time over Christmas break to go to Chicago to see a game or two.
Battle on the block
Megan Maahs is the most prolific freshman rebounder in UNI history.
Jacqui Grant is a senior at DePaul who has started 63 of 65 games.
On Friday, they clashed in a matchup both coaches highlighted Thursday.
Maahs had 16 points and five rebounds, three of them offensive, and Grant had 11 rebounds to go with seven points, three steals, and one turnover in 21 minutes.
Their battles for position in the opening minutes provided a game within the game -- until it abruptly ended. Grant collected two fouls in eight minutes in the first half. With DePaul leading by as many as 20 points in the first half, coach Bruno felt comfortable sitting her so she wouldn't pick up a third foul.
"She's a very good player on the defensive end and the offensive end," Maahs said of Grant. "When she came out with those two early fouls, we really needed to get the ball down low, and that's what we did."
Bruno felt the impact was pronounced.
"We were up 24 in the first half and lost the last three minutes badly," he said. "Northern Iowa really kicked our butt in the last three minutes of the second quarter."
Bruno noted UNI scored nine points in the first quarter, but scored 24 in the second quarter when Grant spent a lot of time on the bench.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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