DePaul Falls to Irish in NCAA Round Two

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - For two teams that know each other well, it was Notre Dame that knew a little more for one night.

Megan Podkowa had team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 9 seed DePaul placed four players in double figures, but the Blue Demons' season ended with a 79-67 loss to No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and the 41st meeting between the two teams.

"We knew that to beat a very good team [like Notre Dame] we knew we were going to have to play a good game on all sides of the basketball," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno.

The sides that hurt DePaul were rushing on offense and being outrebounded.

The Blue Demons were outrebounded 51-32 for the game and were outscored 38-24 in the paint.

The final differential tonight of 12 points is a reflection of how close these two teams have played over the years. Before tonight, the aggregate point totals were 2,795 points for Notre Dame and 2,748 points for DePaul.

The Blue Demons' 19 series wins are third-most by an Irish opponent, outdone only by Connecticut and Tennessee.

DePaul jumped out to a 20-12 lead on a layup by Centrese McGee at 12:10 of the first half, DePaul's largest lead of the half. Bruno shouted to his team at the 8:38 mark "you have to rebound," and his words echoed that lost side.

Michaela Mabry hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Notre Dame a 27-24 lead, its first lead since 18:03. Mabrey is No. 7 all-time for 3-pointers at Notre Dame with 156. She shot 5-7 from behind the arc for the game. A 3-pointer by Chanise Jenkins (10 points and three assists) ended a 6:06 scoring drought for DePaul.

"We were trying to get fast baskets when we should have been taking our time," DePaul senior Brittany Hrynko said of the drought.

Notre Dame finished the half on a 20-8 run and led by six going at the break.

"When you are a high-scoring team like we are, it's really hard to ask your players to slow down," said Bruno. "We scored the first basket of the second half and then gave up a lot of easy ones and the game got away from us and we were not able to get it back."

A lot of those easy baskets were lobs inside to Brianna Turner (14 points and 11 rebounds) and to Tara Reimer (14 points and 10 rebounds).

A jumper by Brooke Schulte at 14:09 of the second half cut the lead to 47-42, but Turner answered with an alley-oop. DePaul got no closer than five points the rest of the game.

Notre Dame (33-2) coach Muffet McGraw said on Saturday that there were not many teams that play the full court press like DePaul does, and that there really were not any teams in the ACC that play like that.

DePaul forced 18 turnovers, scored 22 points off them, and had six steals for the game. Its pressure affected Notre Dame the entire game, but there were defensive breakdowns that allowed the Irish some easy baskets.

The Blue Demons finished the game on a 12-2 run. Hrynko scored 11 points and had four assists and two steals. Jessica January added 12 points and a team-high five assists for DePaul.

Notre Dame led 79-58 with 1:40 left, but with about 2:00 left Hrynko and Podkowa showed what the score did not.

DePaul had the ball out of bounds under its own basket and was waiting for Notre Dame to return from its huddle. Hrynko reached out, and her and Podkowa slapped each other's hands.

"I think [Megan] had missed a shot, so I just told her to keep shooting," said Hrynko. "I told her I was going to kick it to her in the paint and to keep shooting. You can't just let up because you are down so much. You have to keep fighting until the buzzer goes off."

That last sentence is a summary of DePaul's season. From the early losses to Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and Northwestern, to the 107-87 loss to Seton Hall, it was always keep fighting. And that fighting got the team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, playing in a venue where its opponent has won all five second round games played there.

Bruno told his team after the game that he feels "blessed to coach a great team this year" and that "Brittany Hrynko has given us something at DePaul that very few people have accomplished at DePaul."

For seniors Hrynko, Megan Rogowski, and Centrese McGee, the experience they have had at DePaul far outweight tonight's outcome.

"It has been a great four years for me here," said Hrynko. "Coach Bruno is a great guy and my teammates are great players and great people to be around."

"It has been a great experience at DePaul," said Rogowski. "It got cut short [with a knee injury] but I still embraced the year. The team had a great year this year and it was a lot of fun these past four years."

"I experienced things I never thought I would get to experience, like the Sweet 16 last year and the second round this year, and a BIG EAST title twice," said McGee. "Those are things I never imagined happening."

DePaul finishes its season at 27-8, tied for the Big East regular season title, and winner of the Big East Tournament. The Blue Demons played six teams during the regular season that were selected to the NCAA Tournament. All but two of those opponents (UConn and Notre Dame) were eliminated in the first round.

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