NCAA women’s tournament rewind

March 19: DePaul 56 – 43 Navy“It’s kind of a sigh of relief,” said senior Sam Quigley of the team snapping their first-round losing streak. “After four years having been here and not getting the win, it kind of felt like a jinx, so it’s great that we got it.”

The Blue Demons worked to speed up the pace of the game in the second half after Navy experienced some success slowing things down.

“Tempo was a huge aspect of this game,” said DePaul Head Coach Doug Bruno. “They wanted a slow tempo, and a slow tempo was to their advantage and we wanted to speed it up and we were able to speed it up with the efforts and energy of our players.”

For the first 30 minutes, Navy made the most of its first NCAA tournament berth. Alex Membreno hit a 3-pointer to put Navy up 30-29 at the 16:12 mark. They stayed close for the next six minutes, but Navy Head Coach Stefanie Pemper said after the game that DePaul changed its offensive set around that point, and her team struggled to defend it.

“All of the dribble-weave stuff and the high ball screen,” she said. “It was just hard to stay with them.”

Angela Myers, who led the team in scoring this year, finished with 13 points. But she also had seven of the team’s 23 turnovers.

“It was my fault,” said Myers after the game, when asked about the turnovers. “I just wish I never gave the ball up or passed it…Those turnovers really killed us.”

Read the full game recap here.

March 21: DePaul 75 – 73 Penn State

Trailing by 14 points with 18:20 left in the game, the Blue Demons rallied for a 75-73 victory thanks to 26 points from Keisha Hampton, two of which came at the free throw line with 4.9 seconds remaining.

With 4.9 seconds left and the game tied at 73, Hampton put up a long 3-pointer. The shot missed, but she drew the shooting foul from Alex Bentley, sending her to the line for three free throws.

“Just, I can’t let our season end like this, we’ve worked too hard for this,” Hampton said she was thinking at the line. “I just took my time, shot the free throws and made them. I just didn’t want our season to end like that.”

When asked about the late foul call, Bentley said simply, “The call was made and you can’t go back and change it.”

The Blue Demons shot 10-36 in the first half and trailed Penn State by nine heading into halftime. Seven quick points to start the second half put the Lady Lions up 45-31.

“The first four minutes of the half, they just came out and buried us, burned us,” Head Coach Doug Bruno said. “And then we just started to chip away. It’s boring rhetoric, but just chipping a couple points a timeout, and that’s what we were trying to do.”

The team also shut down two of Penn State’s more dangerous scoring options: Guard Maggie Lucas and the Chicago-born Zhaque Gray scored a total of nine points combined.

The victory gave DePaul its second Sweet 16 berth in school history.

Read the full game recap here.

March 27: Duke 70 – 63 DePaul

The Blue Devils scored 40 points in the paint and outrebounded DePaul 43 to 34, 19 of which came on the offensive glass. That had DePaul trailing 41-28 heading into the locker room.

“We’re sitting at halftime chasing 13 points and we’d given up 12 points off of our offensive turnovers, and 12 points on the offensive glass,” Bruno said. “At the first media timeout, we’d already given up six points, three putbacks. That was huge in the basketball game.”

Duke guard Karima Christmas was especially active, pulling down four offensive boards and driving to the lane almost at will.

“We had no answer for Christmas,” Bruno said. “We couldn’t guard here, and nothing we tried to do could really manage her.”

DePaul started to inch its way back into the game, and had squeezed the deficit to just three, 63-60 with 50 seconds left. But Duke hit seven of eight free throws in that final span to seal the win and prevent the comeback.

The offense was hindered by foul trouble. As a team, DePaul picked up 23 personal fouls, leading to 29 free throw attempts for Duke. They made 21 of those.

Hampton picked up her fourth foul with 12:17 remaining, and sat on the bench until 7:51. She then picked up her fifth and final at 6:36, removing her from the game.

“That’s a part of her game that’s she’s fixing and has been fixing,” Bruno said, “But she’s still prone to committing fouls.”

The loss ended the season for a Blue Demons team that was frequently talked about the team’s camaraderie. They have a total of five seniors that will be gone next year.

Read the full game recap here.