DePaul misses out on NCAA Tournament for first time since 2002

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Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia

DePaul junior guard Sonya Morris walks off the court disappointed during the Blue Demons’ 83-72 loss to Creighton on Saturday at Wintrust Arena

For the first time since 2002, the DePaul women’s basketball team failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

The team was on the bubble ever since they were knocked out of the Big East Tournament by the Villanova Wildcats.

After the game, head coach Doug Bruno was optimistic that his team had done enough to be included in the tournament.

“Absolutely, I believe we deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament,” Bruno said. “When I see other leagues telling the committee that 10 teams should be in for us – when I hear that, absolutely I believe we should be in the NCAA Tournament.”

DePaul finished fourth in the Big East with an overall record of 14-8. They went 11-5 in the conference. What did the Blue Demons in was the way they finished the season.

In some respects, they dug their own grave by losing four out of their last five games, three in a row at home. 

DePaul started the season rather well. While they may have lost against 93-91 to Texas A&M, they hung in there with the No. 4 ranked team in the country. Then, in December, they pulled an upset against then-No.9 Kentucky, 86-82. The Blue Demons played against some tough opponents this season.

“I think there’s no doubt we went out and scheduled people,” Bruno said. “And some of the other people campaigning for the right to be in the tournament, if you go out and look at who they scheduled, they didn’t schedule difficult people. But again, our committees work very hard. They don’t get extra pay. They’re going to figure this out and if they feel like we’re deserving, then we’re deserving. And if they don’t feel like we’re deserving, then we won’t be deserving.”

Down the stretch, DePaul lost to Creighton, Marquette and Butler, With the exception of Marquette, the other two finished below the Blue Demons in the standings. Butler finished with an overall record of 3-17 and only one win on the road. The lone road win came against DePaul.

In the end, the committee did not feel DePaul were deserving of an NCAA Tournament bid. It was always going to be difficult to look past the four losses in five games. When looking back at those games, the only game the Blue Demons were never really in it was the one against Creighton.

Against the other three, DePaul held the lead only to falter in the second half. Even in their elimination against Villanova, DePaul was able to come back in the fourth quarter, but lost in overtime. But the offensive woes that plagued them the last month or so of the season never went away.

DePaul will play in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, with the bracket coming out later Monday night.