DePaul to NCAA: Invitation Accepted

CHICAGO- It is what college basketball teams play all year for: the chance to dance.

And dancing it shall be for the DePaul Blue Demons women's basketball team as it heads to California this Saturday to take on the San Diego State University Aztecs in the first round of the NCAA Berkeley regional.

DePaul (23-9) is seeded #7 and the Aztecs (23-7) are seeded #10.

And while tournament sites are pre-determined, this game will be played at the Aztecs' home arena, where SDSU is 14-0 this year, a point not lost on DePaul head coach Doug Bruno.

"That is life in women's college basketball and in the women's tournament," Bruno said. "I think that is where the Big East has prepared us. When you play in the Big East at UConn and at all the great places that we play, playing at The Pit in New Mexico starting the season and at Tennessee, I think those are all experiences that should have us ready to play at San Diego State."

"We have a lot of veterans so we know how the tournament works and we know how things go, so that will be good to have more experience and people understanding what it's like," DePaul guard Sam Quigley said.

DePaul has now made the NCAA tournament seven years in a row and 14 times since 1990.

"You can't take these for granted,' Bruno said. "They never get old. The excitement on watching those players' faces never gets old. You don't ever want to minimize how hard it is to get in. We try to talk about a DePaul program that moves to a Sweet Sixteen consistency."

DePaul will seek to erase the memory of last year's first round NCAA tournament game, a 76-57 loss to Marist.

"Every year is a new team," said Bruno. "You want to learn and take what did not go right in that game and make sure that history does not repeat itself. I think the psyche of this team is different than that of last year's team."

DePaul's leading scorer, Deirdre Naughton, spoke about the lessons the team learned from the Marist loss, and how she feels the team is playing now. "[Just taking for granted] getting to the tournament. I think when you get to the tournament you have to have a killer instinct. What I take from every single play is that you have to have a killer instinct. I think we are playing our best basketball right now. I think it was good the week after the Big East tournament. We tightened a lot of things up, our offense especially."

SDSU lost in the Mountain West Conference tournament title game 63-58 to the University of Utah. The Aztecs are led by Jene Morris's 15.5 ppg. Defense has been the Aztecs' specialty this year, holding opponents to an average of 57 ppg per contest. The team has the MWC Coach of the Year in Beth Burns, and the team placed three of the five positions on the MWC All-Defensive team.

Bruno said he expects forward Felicia Chester, who has not played since the Marquette game on February 28, to play against SDSU.

The Big East led all conferences with seven teams being selected to this year's tournament.


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