DePaul women’s basketball playing their ‘best ball of the season’ going into Sweet Sixteen

Going into their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2011, DePaul women’s basketball continues to feed off of the momentum from their upset win against Duke while preparing to play Texas A&M.

“The win (over Duke) was huge for our program…definitely a momentum-builder,” sophomore Chanise Jenkins said. “It gives us tons of confidence going into the next game.”

Senior Jasmine Penny said the win meant a lot to her. With no plans to play after graduation, Penny has no idea when she will play her final game as a Blue Demon.

“It seems like we’re always the underdog and it was so amazing to see us come out and fight the way we did,” Penny said.

In their last Sweet Sixteen appearance, DePaul lost to Duke 63-70. No. 3 seed Texas A&M is a “very physical team” and will be a tough challenge for DePaul, Head Coach Doug Bruno said Wednesday afternoon.

“They’ve got great strength and size to knock us around in the paint,” Bruno said. “It’s our job as coaches to get these players open, and the players – they will make the shots. This is going to be a tough defense to get them open against.” Texas A&M is also a strong 3-point team shooting 30.5 percent from behind the arc.

Although DePaul had yet to view the tapes and scouting reports, sophomore Megan Podkowa said they intend to stick to their usual game plan.

“They’re big, they’re rebounders and their guards are quick,” Podkowa said. “So we’ll stick to the same game plan – playing with intelligence, defending, rebounding and listening to what our coaches tell us.”

Always keeping his players in mind first, Bruno kept it a secret that the team’s win against Duke was also his 600th collegiate win.

“I think it was very important to keep it from the players so it was not be a distraction,” Bruno said. “I thought Duke was going to be enough of a distraction.” When asked about the team’s reaction when he told them he said, “I didn’t tell them … it’s just starting to leak out today. Their job is to win one in a row.”

But Bruno said that the team is without a doubt “playing their best ball of the season right now.”

“We’re one of only nine programs to (go to) 12 straight NCAA tournaments. I would consider that a lifetime achievement award,” Bruno said.

If DePaul wins Saturday evening, it will be the women’s first Elite Eight appearance in the program’s history.

“We’ve been here before in the Sweet Sixteen,” Podkowa said. “We’re really hoping to get this win and keep moving forward and hopefully we can make this a bigger program than it already is.”

DePaul tips off against Texas A&M Saturday, March 29, at 6:30 p.m.