DePaul’s defense kept the Blue Demons on a roll.
Keisha Hampton scored 16 points to lead five DePaul players in double figures and the No. 12/17 Blue Demons beat No. 8/8 West Virginia 78-55 on Sunday.
“These players are starting to demonstrate their ability to execute on the defensive side of the ball,” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said after his team beat the Mountaineers for the fifth time in nine meetings.
“So basically our challenge was to match West Virginia’s defense and rebounding and toughness.”
Felicia Chester and Taylor Pikes each had 15 points for DePaul (21-2, 8-0 BIG EAST) while Anna Martin had 12 and Sam Quigley 11. The Blue Demons have won 18 of their past 19 games and have a showdown with No. 2/2 Connecticut on Saturday.
Pikes said she’s looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup with the Huskies.
“We’re stepping on a big stage,” she said.
Asya Bussie scored 13 points and Sarah Miles added 11 for West Virginia (19-3, 5-3 BIG EAST), which lost consecutive games for the first time in nearly a year. The Mountaineers were beaten by No. 19/19 Georgetown on Tuesday night.
The Blue Demons, off to their best BIG EAST start, trailed only in the game’s opening minutes, then built leads of as many as 25 points in the second half.
“They really did a job of schooling us last March in the BIG EAST tournament quarterfinals (a 47-41 loss) and I wasn’t certain how our players were going to respond to how they physically manhandled us,” Bruno said. “I was very impressed with our players, they really really responded well.”
After spotting West Virginia a 4-0 lead, DePaul scored on three straight fast breaks during a 16-0 run.
The Blue Demons led 20-6 when the Mountaineers finally snapped out of their drought with a Miles jumper and three consecutive baskets from Korinne Campbell — including a 3 pointer on a 11-4 run that cut DePaul’s lead to 24-17.
“They kicked our butt,” Mountaineers coach Mike Carey said. “We deserved to get our butt kicked. We have five seniors and if they don’t straighten up, we will start playing for next year. I am not fooling with seniors that don’t play hard.”
Hampton scored 10 first-half points as the Blue Demons took a 34-25 halftime lead. Miles and Campbell each had nine for the Mountaineers.
The Blue Demons’ defensive pressure forced 10 first-half turnovers, which they turned into 15 points.
In the first 3:31 of the second half, DePaul extended the lead to 18 points at 46-28 on Chester’s four inside baskets and Hampton’s 3-pointer.
DePaul twice built 22-point leads. Chester provided the first at 50-28 with 15:10 left when she put back her own miss. Pikes hit a 3-pointer to make it 74-52 with 2:51 remaining.
DePaul outscored West Virginia 44-26 in the paint, 12-0 on fast breaks and had 14 steals.
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.