Anna Martin led a balanced attack with 17 points as DePaul claimed a 59-55 victory against the Cougars in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament Saturday.
The seventh-seeded Blue Demons (23-10) will play No. 2 Tennessee at suburban Allstate Arena on Monday. The Lady Vols ripped DePaul 84-61 on Dec. 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York to fall to 0-19 against Tennessee.
“Tennessee’s a totally different team than the one we played in December,” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. “So are we. It’s going to be a very, very tough game … (and) hopefully we can get 17,000 out and get this place filled.
BYU (26-7) fought back from a late eight-point deficit and had a chance to tie with 2.8 seconds to play. But Haley Steed’s 3 point try missed, DePaul rebounded and Steed fouled Brittany Hrynko.
“(Haley’s) hit a couple of shots like that this year,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “When she shot it, I thought it was in.”
Hyrnko added a free throw and closed with 15 points while Katherine Harry and Jasmine Penny had 12 each.
Jennifer Hamson had 21 points for BYU and Kristen Riley had 10 and 12 rebounds.
Martin scored six points as fast-starting DePaul hit 5 of its first 7 shots to open an early 10-1 lead.
Hamson collected six more points over a 6 minute span as the Cougars forced a 12-12 tie and took their first lead at 14-12 on Dani Peterson’s bank shot with 10:55 left in the half.
BYU never trailed through the balance of a tight first half, but never extended a lead beyond five points. The Blue Demons twice rallied to tie in the final 1:32, but the Cougars opened a 29-27 lead on a pair of Lexi Eaton free throws.
DePaul then took over.
The Demons took advantage of five Cougars turnovers and opened the second half with 14 unanswered points—including five from Hrykno—for a 41-29 lead at the 14:30 mark.
BYU broke the run at 13:41 on Easton’s layup, but still trailed 45-34 when Steed when to work.
Steed hit back-to-back 3 pointers—her first field goals of the game—to briefly trim the deficit to 45-40.
BYU hit two more 3 pointers and cut the lead to 54-48 with 3:26 on Vermunt’s long-distance shot.
The Cougars continued to chip away and trimmed the deficit to 58-55 on Lexi Eaton’s 3 with 41.8 seconds left.
The game was held on the home court for DePaul’s men’s basketball. The women player in a smaller on-campus facility and haven’t appeared at Allstate Arena since hosting an NCAA tourney round in 2006.
The Cougars were making their first NCAA trip since 2007. They won the West Coast Conference tournament earlier this month for an automatic berth.
The Blue Demons are a tournament regular, qualifying yearly since 2003. They reached the NCAA Sweet 16 last year before falling to Duke.