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DePaul women vie for first-ever Big East title after win over Marquette

DePaul guard JessicJanuary (14) scores over Marquette guard Brooklyn Pumroy left Chelsie Butler (34) during second half an NCAA college

DePaul guard Jessica January (14) scores over Marquette guard Brooklyn Pumroy, left, and Chelsie Butler (34) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the 2014 Big East women's basketball tournament, Monday, March 10, 2014, in Rosemont, Ill. DePaul won 100-90. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Updated: March 10, 2014 9:27PM

DePaul coach Doug Bruno reminded his team Monday of what happened Feb. 18 in Milwaukee against Marquette.

“They said `that’s the only team that beat us [over the last two months.]’ I said, ‘no, you beat yourselves at Marquette.’ ”

The story was different Monday night at Allstate Arena, where the Blue Demons scored a 100-90 victory over the Golden Eagles to advance to Tuesday’s championship game of the Big East women’s tournament.

No. 23 DePaul (26-6) will face St. John’s (22-9), which scored a 68-63 overtime victory against Creighton earlier to reach the championship game.

The Blue Demons will be playing for their first Big East title in the reconfigured league, which no longer has national powers Connecticut and Notre Dame.

``We’ve won a lot of semi finals in the four other leagues we’ve been in,’ Bruno said. ``I’ve really never felt bad about what we achieved in the previous Big East. There’s no disgrace in not having won against two teams that reached the [national] Final Four. It’s more a big deal for the program, and it means more to the players.’’

The Demons built a 55-38 lead at halftime and led by as many as 19 with 17:28 left. But the Golden Eagles came back with a strong rebounding performance (42-35) and were within six with one minute left at 93-87.

But DePaul made seven of 10 free throws to close out the game as four Marquette players fouled out.

``After losing to a team, you always want to get it back,’’ said senior forward Jasmine Penny (26 points). ``We came out with great energy to get back that game.’’

Marquette made 24 free throws in its Feb. 18 victory—the only loss for the Blue Demons in the last 16 games.

This time they were 19-24 from the line, but the Blue Demons had 40 attempts, hitting 26.

``We definitely wanted to be in attack mode to get inside the paint [to] get them in foul trouble,’’ Bruno said.

The last time DePaul scored 100 points was against Illinois State in December, 2010.

``We have a team full of shooters and coach says we all have the green light,’’ said sophomore Chanise Jenkins (23 points, six assists).

DePaul shot 50.7 percent for the game—but Marquette was nearly equal at 50 percent.

Senior Katie Young had 26 points for Marquette while senior Katherine Plouffe had 19 points and 17 rebounds.

The Blue Demons split their regular season games against St. John’s, losing 96-86 at home on Jan. 11 but winning 80-65 in New York on March 1. The Red Storm has won three straight since that loss.

``St. John’s came back from 23 points down to Marquette and beat them by 13,’’ Bruno said. ``They really handed it to us on Jan. 11 and then we came back March 1. Every game has a life of its own. We’ll see what happens.’’

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