DePaul Women Gain 10th Straight NCAA Bid

Illinois governor Pat Quinn and Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel were officially invited on Monday night. And so were the DePaul Blue Demons.

The Blue Demons face No. 10 seed Brigham Young this Saturday at Allstate Arena in a first round match up in the Des Moines Regional. Tip off is scheduled for 30 minutes after the completion of the No. 2 seed Tennessee/ No. 15 seed Tennessee-Martin game which starts at 3:10 CST.

Following the selection of his team, Doug Bruno announced to the crowd at McGrath-Phillips Arena that he was inviting Quinn and Emmanuel to Saturday game.

DePaul (22-10, 9-7 Big East) took the hard route to get to this point. With five players injured, the team that Bruno has coined the "Magnificent Seven" was grand enough to garner a No. 7 seed in this year's tournament.

Senior Deanna Ortiz, on having heard her team's name called for the four years she has attended DePaul.

"It never gets old when your name comes up. Everybody around the country works all year long, they play a lot of games and it is really hard and grueling work," said Ortiz. "So when you can be rewarded like that, it is something I will never forget."

And for Ortiz and the rest of the team, last year was something else the players will never forget.

Having lost in the NCAA first round in the past four years, last year's senior-laden team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

"Last year we got over that emotional hump of losing in the first round so we finally got that first win [against Navy] under our belt and we started feeling confident that we could win and that we could make a splash in the tournament," said Katherine Harry.

And with this year's team having Ortiz as the only healthy senior and the roster including two freshmen and one transfer, leadership will be key on Saturday.

"The biggest thing [the freshmen] have to understand is that every possession is huge," said All Big East First Team selection, junior Anna Martin. "We have been practicing a lot with end-of-game scenarios. It is about the team that defends, that rebounds. We try to tell them that it is going to be tough, but to stay together."

The Cougars (26-6, 12-4 West Coast) are led by 6'3" senior forward Kristen Riley's 11.4 ppg and 8.0 rpg. Guard Haley Steed leads the team with 7.2 assists per game.

"They are a good offensive basketball team," said Bruno. "They have a great point guard in Steed. They have made over 200 three-pointers this year and they average 19 assists per game. It is a really good, well-oiled offensive basketball team."

Brigham Young is making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007 and its ninth appearance overall.

DePaul is 3-2 all-time against the Cougars.

The Blue Demons are the only Illinois Division I basketball team, men's or women's, to qualify for the NCAA tournament this year.


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