March 19, 2011
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Ninth ranked and third seeded DePaul (28-6) outscored Navy (20-12) 15-3 over the final 10 minutes to pull out a 56-43 victory over the Midshipmen in the first round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Penn State. DePaul advances to play the host Nittany Lions (25-9) on Monday night at 7:00 p.m.
The Mids, making the school's first-ever appearance in the tournament, hung with the Blue Demons for 36 minutes before DePaul was able to pull away thanks to a relentless full court press.
"I thought we played with a lot of heart," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "We were good defensively the entire game and did a great job of blocking them out. They went to an offensive set in the final 10 minutes that gave us some trouble and offensively we were not able to execute against their press. We turned the ball over too many times. This was by far the best team we've played against in my three years here. They were experienced (five senior starters), tall and athletic."
"The Navy basketball team is a very good and well coached team," said DePaul head coach Doug Bruno. "I was impressed by their toughness and their intelligence. We knew it was going to be a tough game and that we were going to have to play well to win. They were able to control the tempo for most of the game, but we were finally able to wear them down over the final 10:00 minutes.
Senior guard Angela Myers scored Navy's first points in an NCAA Tournament game with a soft 10-foot jumper 92 seconds into the game and the Mids hung tough with the Blue Demons throughout the first half.
DePaul would take its biggest lead of the half at 14-7 with 9:10 remaining on a lay-up by Katherine Harry, but the Mids would go on a 14-8 run of their own to cut the DePaul lead to one at 22-21 with 24 seconds left on a Myers lay-up off an assist from freshman Alix Membreno. DePaul would take a 24-21 lead into the locker room at the half.
Navy started the second half on fire making four of its first five shots and tied the game at 27 on back-to-back jumpers by freshman Jade Geif. Geif would finish the contest with a game-high 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds before fouling out with 1:40 left in the contest.
"Geif is a monster," said Bruno. "She has improved so much from the start of the year until now. She is going to be a great player before she finishes at Navy, not just in their league but anywhere."
After Anna Martin put DePaul back up by two at 29-27, Membreno brought the crowd to life with a three-point field goal from the right corner to give the Mids a 30-29 lead with 16:51 left in the game.
"We believed we could win this game," said Myers. "We weren't going to be satisfied by just being close. We wouldn't have showed up if we didn't think we could win"
The Mids would not lead again after Membreno's three, but still trailed by just one with 10:28 left when Geif scored off an assist from freshman Audrey Bauer to make the score 41-40.
The field goal by Geif would turn out to be Navy's final field goal of the game as DePaul turned up the press and the Mids turned it over eight times down the stretch and missed its final eight field goal attempts.
The 13 point loss by the Mids is the closest a Patriot League team has come in an NCAA Tournament game since 1991 when Holy Cross upset Maryland, 81-74. Over the last 10 years the Patriot League representative has lost by an average of 42.6 points. Last year, 13th seeded Lehigh lost to fourth seeded Iowa State, 79-42.
Myers complemented Geif's double-double with 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Membreno added seven points and three rebounds. The Mids shot just 39 percent (16-41) from the field and 21 percent (4-19) from three and made seven of 12 free throws (58 percent).
DePaul, which was held to its second lowest point total of the season, was led by Felicia Chester, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Harry added 10 points and seven rebounds.
"The Navy basketball program is in great hands," said Myers who played her last game in a Navy uniform. "The freshman class is just outstanding and the sky is the limit for them. Look out for Navy basketball in the future."