Bulldogs block out to collect 61 rebounds
Tanita Allen has provided a big-time spark off the bench for DePaul all year long.
When the NCAA Tournament began on Friday, Allen kept right on doing what she did in the regular season.
Allen, a sophomore guard for the Blue Demons and the Big East’s Sixth Woman of the Year, scored a game-high 25 points as seventh-seeded DePaul cruised to an 88-67 first-round win over No. 10 seed Northern Iowa at Humphrey Coliseum.
“She’s the Big East’s Sixth Woman of the Year for a reason,” DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said of Allen. “It’s not like she does this every night, but she’s capable of this type of game. She’s a really, really quality shooter and I think she just came out and let it rip.”
Allen could do very little wrong as she helped DePaul (27-7) pull away from UNI (24-9). She made nine of her 11 shots from the field, including a 5-for-6 showing from behind the 3-point line. Allen’s five treys tied a career high. Allen also brought down four rebounds and added a pair of assists during her 25 minutes of action, but it was the shots that kept falling that made the biggest impact on things.
“She was in a zone, and not all of those shots were open," UNI head coach Tanya Warren said of Allen. “Some of those were challenged.”
Allen’s efforts were only part of what was a dominant team performance by the Blue Demons. Joining Allen in scoring double figures were Lauren Prochaska, Brooke Schulte and Amarah Coleman. Prochaska and Schulte totaled a dozen points apiece. Coleman added 10.
Overall, DePaul shot 53 percent as a unit, out-rebounded UNI 40-29 and led for the entire game, save for a minute-and-a-half stretch in the first quarter.
“I knew (DePaul was) good offensively, but I had no idea it was that well of an oiled machine,” Warren said.
Madison Weekly led UNI with a 21-point performance, but it was far from enough to slow down DePaul.
The Blue Demons came out hot from the opening tip. DePaul shot 61 percent as a team in the first half. After UNI scored the game’s first points on a 3-pointer by Mikaela Morgan, DePaul reeled off a 22-4 run to take complete control.
Allen then took over the game in the second quarter. During a 4-minute stretch in the middle of the period, Allen scored 15 of her points, including knocking down four of her 3-pointers.
“The ball got to the paint and it got me and some other shooters open,” Allen said of that point in the game. “I just seemed to have a lot of open shots and was able to knock them down.”
Behind Allen, DePaul led 51-33 at halftime. UNI didn’t get any closer the rest of the way as the Panthers fell down by as many as 29 in the second half before ultimately losing by a 21-point margin.
It wasn’t the ending to the season Warren had drawn up for her team, but nonetheless, she remained full of pride.
“This game in no way defined our season,” Warren said. “Our seniors did a tremendous job and their leadership allowed this team to be successful.”
Meanwhile DePaul advances to face Mississippi State on Sunday. The winner of that game will advance to the Sweet 16.
“This team is focused on what we have to do and trying to survive and living to play another day,” Bruno said. “That’s what this tournament is all about.”