DePaul women headed to NCAA Tournament, will face Oklahoma State

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Much like Neo in “The Matrix,” the DePaul women’s basketball team probably doesn’t believe in fate and not being in control of their lives.

With a berth to this year’s NCAA Tournament at stake, the Blue Demons took command of their destinies – they ground out tough must-win games down the stretch of the regular season, and one big win against Marquette in the Big East Tournament.

They were rewarded for their efforts Monday, as DePaul punched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament and earned a date with Oklahoma State for its 11th straight tournament appearance.

“I thought it was real exciting to make (the tournament) and just to see who we’re playing,” said sophomore guard Brittany Hrynko. “I think it’s gonna be great going away to play a new team to continue our season.”

DePaul (21-11) was chosen as a No. 10 seed and matched up with No. 7 seed Oklahoma State (21-10) on March 24 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. Blue Demon families and friends gathered at McGrath-Phillips Arena on Monday to eagerly watch the NCAA Selection Show.

For head coach Doug Bruno, DePaul’s berth was far from a surprise, but wasn’t a guarantee.

“I think there’s always pressure (to make the tournament). I don’t think we were in until we beat Marquette and I think that was really important,” said Bruno. “I was pretty confident, but you never know. Our RPI is 26, our strength of schedule is 10 – that’s hard to do. We’ve played some really good people this year.”

Senior guard Anna Martin, who sat out nine games this season due to injury, was relieved to see DePaul’s name come up on the ESPN broadcast and keen on extending the Blue Demons’ postseason.

“I think the past two years, with the adversity that we’ve had, it’s a reward to see your name come up there,” said Martin. “There was definitely a time (this season) where we had some must-wins and I was injured at the time, so that was really hard for me because I felt like I couldn’t do anything about it. But I just tried to coach on the bench and I think the girls brought out huge wins.”

Given their close finishes in the tournament the past few seasons, Martin said the team has put an emphasis on focusing on details, including rebounding and defense.

“I think it’s gonna come down to a block-out here and there, unforced turnovers … I think that’ll be really huge,” said Martin. “I definitely want to go out with a bang. I think this whole team really wants to prove something and, like Coach said, we haven’t played our best basketball yet.”

Katherine Harry, the other senior on the team, admitted a bit of anxiety when several brackets were announced with no mention of DePaul. She was pleased to see the Blue Demons finally get assigned a bracket spot and excited to continue the program’s streak of tournament berths, her fourth in as many years.

“We were kind of holding our breath there for a little bit, not sure if what we’ve done was going to be enough. You never want to let a streak like that end just because it shows the tradition and excellence of a program like this,” said Harry. “Coach Bruno is a great coach and he’s done everything he can to put us in a position to win, to be one of the 64 teams that makes the tournament. It’s a great feeling to get in.

“But this is a whole new season,” said Harry, “so we gotta get ready to play those Oklahoma State Cowgirls.”

Duke was chosen as the No. 2 seed in the Norfolk Region and will face No. 15 Hampton. The winners of Sunday’s first round games will play Tuesday. DePaul’s first round game is scheduled to tip at 1:05 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN2.