Preview: DePaul women’s basketball vs. Oklahoma in first round NCAA tournament

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DePaul women’s head coach Doug Bruno wasn’t nearly as excited as his players after winning the Big East tournament.  Bruno, who is in his 28th year as DePaul’s head coach, said he coaches solely for the NCAA tournament.

On Saturday, No. 23 DePaul takes on Oklahoma (18-14) in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Durham, N.C.  at Cameroon Indoor Stadium. The Blue Demons drew a 7th seed in the Lincoln region.
It’s been two years since the Blue Demons last made it out of the first round, beating BYU in the 2011-2012 season. Last year, the Blue Demons fell to Oklahoma State in Durham.

As the team returns to Durham, can they reverse their fortune and make it out of the first round?

What to watch for:  The Sooners are led by Aaryn Ellenberg, who has scored 18.8 points per game this season. However, the real threat the Sooners pose is the size of the team. Senior Nicole Griffin stands at 6-foot-6 and Oklahoma has at least three players at 5-foot-10. DePaul (27-6) is a notoriously fast team, but they are undersized. How the two teams clash and match up in size will be a key area to measure.

X-Factor: Megan Rogowski. Rogowski is DePaul’s best pure shooter, shooting 45.7 percent from 3-point range. In her last three games, however, she is shooting just 33 percent from beyond the arc.  The Blue Demons need her to add a boost again from downtown, especially to combat Oklahoma’s size.

Prediction: Oklahoma was a team that was ranked No. 11 in the preseason, but has had a very up and down season. The Sooners have lost three of their last four games while DePaul has won 16 of their last 17.  The Blue Demons are playing at an exceptionally high level right now and their previous experience at Cameron Indoor Stadium should prepare them for the game.

81-71 DePaul