DePaul and Notre Dame: Close and Closer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The DePaul/Notre Dame women's basketball rivarly stretches back to not January 23, 1979, the first time the two teams played each other, but to 1978, when current DePaul coach Doug Bruno coached against current Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, the former the coach of the Women's Basketball League's Chicago Hustle, and the latter a player with the WBL's California Dream.

Much has changed since that time for both coaches. Bruno has become a fixture on U.S.A. women's teams including as an assistant coach in helping the 2012 U.S. Olympic team win a gold medal, and McGraw taking her teams to Final Fours the past two years. Both coaches are in the Top 20 for victories among active Division I women's basketball coaches.

And despite the dominance of Notre Dame in women's basketball under McGraw, the Irish come in to Sunday's second round NCAA Tournament game with just a 21-19 all-time edge over DePaul.

The series between the two teams has provided historical and memorable performances by both the players and the teams.

DePaul's all-time longest win streak is 17 games, from January 11, 1988 - March 3, 1988. During that streak the Blue Demons beat Notre Dame 80-77, a game where DePaul's Andrea Morgan tied for No. 3 at DePaul in 3-pointers in a single game with seven.

Veronica Ross reached No. 4 in DePaul's all-time single game assist record, notching 14 versus Notre Dame on January 24, 1990. DePaul's Diana Vines also set a DePaul single game record for steals in that game with 12.

On February 24, 2013, Notre Dame set a McGrath-Phillips Arena record with 23 assists during an 84-56 Irish win.

Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd scored a career-high 41 points the last time these two teams met, on December 10, 2014, a 94-93 overtime win for Notre Dame.

DePaul is 6-11 at Notre Dame and has lost the last five games there. Its last win there was on January 22, 2008, an 81-80 game where the Blue Demons' Holly Medley secured the win with a steal in the final seconds. The last time DePaul won at Notre Dame before that game was 69-68 on February 28, 1988.

And all of that history brings the two teams to this Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. CT, where they will square off in Purcell Pavilion, and the winner advancing to the Sweet 16.

Bruno understands well No. 2/2 Notre Dame's (32-2) strength this year, calling a win Sunday night "a major league upset."

DePaul (27-7) upset Duke, in Durham, in last year's second round game, but any correlation between that game and this Sunday's game is non-existent.

"It's a totally different year," said DePaul's Megan Podkowa. "All we can take is the confidence from that game, but I don't think it has any relation to the game [on Sunday]."

And then there is the overtime loss this year, a game where DePaul struggled from the free throw line in the last minute of the game, but a game in which Bruno says should have never even gotten to free throws. DePaul's Brittany Hrynko remains positive about that game, despite the outcome, and she and the team realize what they have to do to hopefully avoid a different final outcome.

"We made shots in that game. Taking our time and making our shots when we are open is going to be huge [Sunday night]. We also have to defend and rebound, but that is every game. The first meeting was just a matter of us making shots and having the confidence to knock them down."

"[The end of that first game] came down to us not defending and not rebounding, which we should have done, so I think that will play a huge key to this game," said Podkowa.

A 37-year rivalry is a long one, and with these two teams, a close one. DePaul's Chanise Jenkins understands what hopefully, for her team on Sunday night, such a rivalry can do.

"The rivalry makes you want to play even better."

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