As the women’s basketball team blows into the Windy City, their tough preseason competition will only intensify as they take on Top 25 DePaul.

The Elis (0-1) flew to Chicago yesterday for a weekend tournament against the Blue Demons (0-1), which will be followed either by Illinois State or Stony Brook. DePaul, which had a brief cameo at the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last March, is ranked No. 22 in the country.

In their tough 68-56 loss to Holy Cross in the season opener, the Elis had a hard time defending screens and were tentative in their shooting the first half, players said. But their offense had a late surge and managed to stage a second-half comeback that fell just short. Captain and forward Chinenye Okafor ’07 said the Bulldogs have been working on their shooting this week in practice.

“We have really good shooters,” she said. “We just have to make sure they’re not as nervous coming in to this game. Everybody knows to relax and just shoot the ball.”

The Bulldogs have the edge on the Blue Demon offense, based on limited statistics from this young season. Center Erica Davis ’07, the team leader with a .667 field-goal percentage, trumps DePaul’s Sam Quigley, who has a .600 average. The Blue Demons racked up 71 points in their season opener against an extremely tough opponent in No. 3 Oklahoma — who pummeled them in a nationally televised game by a 34-point margin. The early stats show a slight Eli edge in free throws, though the Blue Demons made it to the lines 28 times versus Yale’s 10 in their respective openers.

Defensively, the teams are almost even through the first week of the season — both have two blocks and 18 defensive rebounds, but the Blue Demons have 13 steals to the Elis’ 10. Davis said the Elis have been working on their on-court discourse to try and improve their defense.

“We’ve been working on our communication on defense,” she said. “We have been trying to get off screens and trying to be more aware. We should be better at facing that in the future.”

DePaul has a fast moving team that transitions quickly, so the Bulldogs will have to rebound well in the box to combat the Blue Demon offense, Okafor said.

Davis said it would be difficult for the Elis to judge pre-emptively the outcome of the game because the two teams have not faced each other in recent seasons.

“They really run a lot and swing the ball,” she said. “They don’t like to stand around, they just like to go. We’ve been working on transitions, and we’ve been aware of our health, but it’s hard to say exactly what will happen.”

The DePaul Invitational will be a continuation of Yale’s difficult pre-conference schedule. The Elis’ plan before the season began was to work hard in these non-Ivy games and try to improve before league competition begins. As they face off against a potent DePaul squad, the Bulldogs will have to keep up the activity in their offense as well as work to transition back to defense quickly.