LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Maybe DePaul should play all its games in the middle of the afternoon.
Two years after it beat Oklahoma in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament in what was both the highest-scoring regulation game in event history and another matinee, No. 6 seed DePaul routed 11th-seeded James Madison 97-67 in one of the earliest games of the first day of this year's tournament.
Jessica January led six DePaul players in double figures with 18 points, and the Big East champions shot 54 percent from the field and 52 percent from the 3-point line, despite a fourth quarter turned over almost entirely to the end of the bench.
How the game was won: James Madison said it expected a track meet against DePaul. What it got was something closer to a Formula One race. The Dukes allowed 55 or fewer points in 18 of their first 32 games this season. DePaul had 55 points -- and a 25-point lead -- by halftime.
The Blue Demons shot 61 percent in the first half. Some of that was people with hot hands, but it was more a function of DePaul playing at a pace to which James Madison never adjusted.
Player of the game: It should probably be the open player, whoever that happened to be on a given possession for DePaul. But January, save for a couple of turnovers that naturally drew coach Doug Bruno's ire, was productive throughout. She missed just four shots and had five assists. Less tangibly, she embodied DePaul's ability to look calm playing at a frenetic pace.
Turning point: It came early, as DePaul went on a 12-0 run after James Madison took what turned out to be its only lead at 6-5. After a Megan Podkowa basket inside to begin the run, DePaul's Mart'e Grays banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key, a fortunate beginning to what would become a steady rain of 3-pointers from the Blue Demons.
X factor: The defensive work of Brooke Schulte and Ashton Millender. The box score shows that James Madison's Jazmon Gwathmey scored 19 points, just one off her season average, before she fouled out in the fourth quarter. But the Colonial Athletic Association player of the year didn't find any rhythm or many looks until DePaul had a lead well into double digits. With Gwathmey stifled early by the one-on-one attention of Schulte, Millender or Grays, James Madison was as discombobulated on the offensive end as it was out of sorts on the defensive end.
Stat of the game: DePaul's 24 assists on 37 field goals. This was nothing new for a team that ranks among the national assist leaders, although it did push the Blue Demons over the finish line for a program-record 713 assists this season. DePaul entered the game averaging an assist on 67 percent of its field goals and almost managed to match that despite postseason opposition.
What's next: DePaul awaits the winner of Friday's second game between No. 3 seed Louisville and No. 14 seed Central Arkansas. Should the seeding hold, it would be the first game against Louisville since the Blue Demons and Cardinals met as Big East opponents in 2013 on the same court. DePaul's Chanise Jenkins and Podkowa, as well as Louisville's Cortnee Walton, are the only remaining players who participated in that game. DePaul last beat Louisville on the latter's home court in 2005, albeit before either the KFC Yum! Center or Jeff Walz arrived on the scene.
DePaul has never played Central Arkansas, which moved to Division I just a decade ago.