No. 8 seed women’s basketball set to start Big East tournament

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HARTFORD, Conn.—The 2012 Big East Women’s Basketball Championship is underway at the XL Center in Hartford and the DePaul Blue Demons are looking to slay multiple giants on the way to a possible Big East championship.

On Friday afternoon, the ninth-seed USF held off a comeback by the 16 seed Pittsburgh Panthers to defeat them 60-59. DePaul, who lost a 66-63 overtime heartbreaker to the Bulls in January, will get their chance to avenge the loss on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm central time.

Following an impressive season-ending 73-51 victory over Cincinnati that earned DePaul the eighth-seed in the tournament and a first-round bye, the Blue Demons were awarded off the court for their on-court accomplishments this season.

Junior Anna Martin, who scored a career-high 36 points against Cincinnati and was second in the Big East in scoring at 19 points per game, was unanimously voted to the Big East all-conference first team.

And the awards didn’t stop there.

Freshman guard Brittany Hrynko was a unanimous choice to the Big East all-freshman team. Hrynko, who went to the same high school as DePaul great Keisha Hampton, was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 11 points a game and led the Blue Demons in assists.

Junior Katherine Harry was named to the Honorable Mention Big East all-conference team. She led the Big East in rebounds per game (9.7) and led the team in blocked shots.

Deanna Ortiz, the lone senior still playing this season, earned the Big East’s sportsmanship award.

Hampton, who did not make the trip with the team to the tournament, had some basic words to tell the team as they left for Connecticut.

“Just go out there, play hard, and play DePaul basketball when you get there,” she said.

When asked about how she would react when watching the games at home, it took a little bit longer to answer.

“I always think I want to be out there,” she said. “I’m just going to cheer for my team when I watch them.”

The top dog in the tournament also had some good things to say about the Blue Demons.

Notre Dame, the top-seed this weekend, will play DePaul if the Blue Demons defeat USF. Big East Player of the Year Skylar Diggins, the only other player besides Martin to be unanimously voted first-team all-conference, had high praise for Martin and DePaul as a team.

“She’s stepped her game up ever since [Keisha] Hampton went out,” Diggins said about Martin. “And they [DePaul] are a team that’s hungry. They show a lot of heart and have a great coach that keeps them competitive.”