Smith tipped a pass to herself, hit a go-ahead basket and converted a three-point play with 53.8 seconds left Monday night as DePaul scored the final 10 points to beat 12th-seeded Tulsa 71-67 in the San Antonio Regional.
The fourth-seeded Blue Demons (27-6) will face top-seeded LSU in the regional semifinals Saturday.
DePaul's victory came at the end of a long and emotional day that saw the team attend a wake for school coaching legend Ray Meyer, who died Friday at age 92.
Tulsa (26-6), in its first NCAA appearance, appeared on its way to advancing after building an 11-point lead in the second half.
DePaul trailed 67-61 with 1:59 left after Tulsa's Megan Moody hit a jumper and Jillian Robbins made a free throw.
But Smith, a 6-foot-2 senior and the team's leading scorer, took over. She made a pair of free throws and Allie Quigley sank a 3-pointer to pull DePaul within one.
Tulsa was then called for a traveling violation and after a timeout, DePaul threw a pass across the lane to Smith, who came up with the ball and put it high off the glass for the go-ahead basket while getting fouled on the play.
Smith later hit two free throws with 32 seconds left and then another shot to preserve the lead. When Smith got a final rebound, she hurled the ball high into the air as the final seconds ticked off and the Blue Demons mobbed one another at center court.
Smith finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds, while Jenna Rubino added 17 points for DePaul, which advanced past the second round for the first time in 11 trips to the NCAA tournament.
Moody had 13 of her 22 points in the second half and Conference USA player of the year Robbins had 21.
Robbins scored on a three-point play and sank a 3-pointer as the Golden Hurricane went on a 10-0 run for a 49-41 lead.
DePaul got to within four but Moody hit a pair of jumpers and a 3-pointer to help Tulsa build a 60-49 advantage with 9:30 left.
Playing before a home crowd at the suburban Allstate Arena that is 15 miles from its campus, DePaul stormed back and stayed in the game when Caprice Smith hit two 3-pointers and Quigley made a pair of free throws, cutting the lead to 60-57.
Tulsa, which shot 50 percent for the game, led by five at the half.
Game Notes: The 11-point deficit was the largest overcome this season by DePaul... it was also the five victory in six games when trailing with 5:00 left in the game... the Blue Demons had lost their previous five second-round games... Khara Smith's 14 rebounds were a NCAA Tournament record for DePaul... she is 39-of-42 (.929) from the free throw line in the last seven games... DePaul is now 22-4 all-time at the Allstate Arena... the 27 wins tied the single-seaosn record... the 33rd game this season tied the single-season record sent in 1988-89... Monday was the first meeting between DePaul and Tulsa.
Official Box Score
Sweet Victory for Blue Demons Over Tulsa
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