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DePaul uses up-tempo style for easy tournament win

 

Brett Hudson

 

 

STARKVILLE -- Vic Schaefer has a warning for up-tempo teams looking to overwhelm his Mississippi State women's basketball team with that style in the NCAA tournament. 

 

"I think you better be careful about playing my team really fast," he said. 

 

Fifteenth-seeded Troy learned those perils Friday in a 110-69 in the first round at Humphrey Coliseum. 

 

Seventh-seeded DePaul (27-7) will try its luck against second-seeded MSU (30-4) at 1:30 p.m. today (ESPN2). 

 

The winner of today's game will advance to the Sweet 16 of the Oklahoma City Regional. The regional semifinals will be at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Friday. 

 

DePaul punched its ticket to the second round by imposing its tempo on Northern Iowa. It set the tone with a 22-9 first quarter that sent it on its way to an 88-67 win. 

 

DePaul coach Doug Bruno heard Schaefer's warning, but he said the Blue Demons aren't going to scrap their style of play to try to slow the Bulldogs down. 

 

"You can't just turn off and on your style of play," Bruno said. "You can't just say, 'They run, so we need to play a 50-point game tonight.' I'm capable of that -- I'd rather go the other direction, let's just throw defense out the window, play a 120-point game and see who lasts -- but we understand we still want to get our runouts when available, and that can happen with two running teams." 

 

DePaul's pressure defense usually forces its opponents into turnovers. In the regular season, DePaul had success forcing Big East Conference rivals Villanova, Creighton, and Georgetown, which are among the nation's best in limiting turnovers, to commit more than their season average. 

 

That wasn't the case against UNI. 

 

The Panthers committed 12 turnovers that resulted in 13 points for the Blue Demons, but UNI coach Tonya Warren saw the pressure affect her team other ways. 

 

"It got us all out of sorts offensively," Warren said. "Their game plan, you could tell, was they were not going to allow us to run our sets. We were getting into some things late in the shot clock. They denied extremely well. They took us out of what we wanted to do, especially early." 

 

UNI senior point guard Madison Weekly offered one way to limit the turnovers in the face of DePaul's press. 

 

"Everyone handled the ball," Weekly said. "When you face that kind of pressure and only have 12 turnovers, that's pretty good. Everyone handled the ball, and whoever got open on the press break was able to bring it up." 

 

DePaul took it a step further against UNI by showcasing its offensive balance. The Blue Demons won easily with guard Brooke Schulte, the reigning Big East Player of the Year, scoring 12 points. Tanita Allen scored 25 of DePaul's 38 bench points and nearly set a new career high. Allen was particularly lethal from 3-point range, going 5-for-6. 

 

Warren said UNI tried multiple defensive switches to stop Allen, but everything from man-to-man to zone to a half-court trap wasn't enough to halt DePaul's shooting. 

 

"Not all of (Allen's) shots were open," Warren said, "some of those were challenged." 

 

Said Weekly, "There's always things you could have done, but in the end, when someone shoots that well, it's going to take a toll on your defense. They are constantly moving the ball. They hit a body really hard when they screen." 

 

Recent history suggests DePaul won't be intimidated as the No. 7 seed at the No. 2 seed. It was in this situation three years ago and beat Duke 74-65 to go to the Sweet 16. Last season, it defeated Louisville 73-72 in Louisville, Kentucky, to advance to the Sweet 16, where it lost to Oregon State. 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson

 

 

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