No. 7 seed DePaul jumped to an early lead and never looked back en route to an 88-67 NCAA women’s basketball first-round victory over 10th-seeded Northern Iowa on Friday at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss.
Tanita Allen scored a game-high 25 points as the Blue Demons (27-7) reached the NCAA second round for the 12th time in program history.
Brooke Schulte and Lauren Prochaska each had 12 points, Amarah Coleman added 10 and Jacqui Grant pulled down 12 rebounds.
Madison Weekly scored 21 points, Megan Maahs added 16 and Elize Herzberg added 12 as the Panthers (24-9) dropped to 0-4 all-time against DePaul and 0-2 in postseason meetings.
DePaul meets either No. 2 seed Mississippi State or 15th-seeded Troy in Sunday’s second round at Starkville. Baylor is the No. 1 seed in the regional, which moves to Oklahoma City next week for subsequent rounds leading to the Final Four.
The Panthers opened with a Mikaela Morgan 3-pointer and the Blue Demons replied with a 14-2 run for a nine-point lead by the 4:13 mark of the first quarter.
DePaul’s lead topped 21 points on Allen’s jumper with 5:25 left in the second quarter to make it 39-18 and the Blue Demons went on to a 51-33 lead by halftime.
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The Blue Demons moved to a 74-48 lead entering the fourth quarter and the Panthers never got closer than 21 points.
DePaul shot 36 of 68 from the field (52.9 percent) and hit 11 of 24 from 3-point range. Northern Iowa managed 22 of 55 from the field (40 percent) and hit just four 3 pointers.
DePaul and Northern Iowa had not met since a WNIT showdown in 2001, a 76-73 Blue Demons victory in overtime.
The Blue Demons, the Big East tournament runner-up, are making their 15th consecutive NCAA appearance and are just one of six programs to play in each of the last 15 tournaments. DePaul has qualified for the Sweet 16 four times, the last in 2016, but has never reached the Final Four.
Northern Iowa, second in the Missouri Valley regular-season standings, was making its third overall NCAA appearance and first since 2011. Head coach Tanya Warren has an overall record of 186-139 in 10 years, making her the winningest women’s coach in school history.