A 14-0 run out of the gate was more than enough for #19/18 DePaul, as the Blue Demons defeated Valparaiso 75-49 on Wednesday evening in the first round of the Blue Sky Classic held in Hanover, N.H.
All five starters scored for the Blue Demons during the 14-0 start over 3:52, as Valpo missed its first shots and committed three turnovers on its opening possessions. The lead swelled to 27-6 following a three-pointer by Allie Quigley and a putback by Khara Smith.
Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) snapped a 5:19 scoring draught with a basket at the 7:06 mark. Valpo made just 3 of its first 17 shots from the floor. An 11-2 DePaul run pushed its lead to 30-8 at the 6:47 mark. The Crusaders went nearly another four minutes before scoring again, and the Blue Demons took a 38-18 lead into intermission.
DePaul shot 47.1% from the floor in the first half as Smith connected on 6-of-9 and led all scorers with 13 points at the break. The junior also grabbed nine boards in the opening stanza as the Blue Demons outrebounded Valpo 26-16. Valpo shot just 26.7% in the first half. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) led the Crusaders with six points.
Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) scored on the first possession out of the locker room, and Valpo got a stop defensively with a chance to cut into the lead, but was unable to convert. Jenna Rubino connected on a pair of three-pointers as part of DePaul's 8-0 that followed pushing their lead to 46-20.
Valpo answered with a 7-2 run of its own on back-to-back baskets by Rietema and a triple by Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.). DePaul pushed the lead back to 27, 64-37, with 6:48 to play, and coasted from there.
Rietema led Valpo with 13 points, 11 in the second half. Braun added seven and Stangler and Mayella Kuikhoven (Almelo, Netherlands/St. Canisius H.S.) added six each. Stangler saw her streak of 11 straight games scoring in double-figures come to an end. Baugher led Valpo on the glass with six rebounds, four coming on the offensive end.
Smith led DePaul (9-2) with 18 points and 16 rebounds, seven offensive. Rubino added 16 points, while Jarietta Benton scored 11 more.
DePaul shot 48.4% from the floor for the game and held a 46-27 advantage on the glass. Valpo connected on just 35.1% of its shots. The Crusaders also committed a season-high 18 turnovers, but forced 19 from the Blue Demons.
Valparaiso (5-5) will return to action on Thursday night in the consolation game of the Blue Sky Classic. The Crusaders will face the tournament host, Dartmouth, beginning at 4 p.m. CST. The Big Green fell to Richmond 58-55 in first round action.