CHICAGO -- Savoring personal success has never been Doug Bruno's nature.
The DePaul women's basketball coach has a one-track mind, and his constant focus on the Blue Demons' next opponent has fueled nearly three decades of success. That translated into his 500th career win with DePaul Saturday when the Blue Demons (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) earned a 65-46 victory over Northern Illinois.
Bruno downplayed his accomplishment, instead crediting the support his program has received from the school administration, the present and former coaching staffs and the players.
"It's not our 500th win, it's our one in a row win 500 times," Bruno said. " ... I don't even go there, I don't think about it. Thank God I've been able to coach this long. I really think more in terms of being able to have been blessed to still be physically able to coach after 39 years and enjoy doing it and love doing it."
In his 26th season at DePaul, Bruno has compiled a 500-273 record with 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament.
"It's awesome, he's a great coach," DePaul guard Anna Martin said. "He's helped me so much throughout the way. I've had a lot of college growing pains and I'm really happy for his 500th win."
DePaul needed a strong defensive effort in the second half against Northern Illinois to secure Bruno's milestone victory.
Despite winning their 18th straight game versus Northern Illinois, the Blue Demons (13-2) trailed the Huskies 25-22 at halftime after shooting 26.7 percent including a 1-for-12 effort from beyond the 3-point line. They recovered in the second half to shoot nearly 50 percent, though the Blue Demons still struggled from beyond the arc -- finishing the game just 3 for 19.
"Northern did a great job of really sagging off in the paint on D," Martin said. "And we're such a good 3-point shooting team that when you see that, you get a little anxious and you're like, 'Oh, I'm wide open' instead of really moving the ball on offense and looking for a better shot."
DePaul's 14-0 run to start the second half ended the Huskies' hopes for an upset, turning a three-point deficit into a 36-25 Blue Demons lead. They forced two turnovers and Martin knocked down two shots to reclaim the lead in the opening minute and the Blue Demons never trailed again. Northern Illinois (6-6) led by as many as five points in the first half.
"I was really excited with the way our team came out in the second half and defended to start the second half," Bruno said.
Martin, who leads the Big East in scoring with 19 points per game, was often DePaul's lone bright spot offensively. The junior guard had a game- and season-high 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting, while her Blue Demon teammates went a combined 13 for 46 from the field (28.3 percent) and none scored more than nine points.
Martin became DePaul's 27th 1,000-point scorer on a first-half free throw.
"I thought you saw Anna play one of her better collegiate games tonight," Bruno said. "She really had it going and she really did a great job offensively for us and that's what she's been doing since she's been here."
Coming out of the halftime break, the Huskies were held without a point against a DePaul defense that forced 11 second-half turnovers until Alicia Johnson's free throws with 14:12 remaining. Still, the Blue Demons commanded a double-digit lead for most of the second half and extended it to 20 points with less than two minutes remaining, their largest lead of the game.
The interior defense limited Northern Illinois' options, with DePaul blocking 10 shots.