DePaul knew it was going to be in its 12th consecutive NCAA Women’s tournament by virtue of winning the Big East tournament. It took a little longer for Oklahoma to learn if it was going to make its 15th straight appearance in the field of 64.
These two programs full of staying power meet in Durham, N.C., on Saturday when the 7th-seeded Blue Demons face the No. 10 seed Sooners in the first round.
Both schools are on a short list of teams to have reached every NCAA tournament the last 11 years, as DePaul (27-6) and Oklahoma (18-14) joined perennial powers Connecticut, first and second-round host Duke, Georgia, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt to accomplish the feat.
The Blue Demons have won their last seven, including three in a row en route to the Big East title as the host school. They’re also trying to make their stay in Durham longer this year after losing a first-round game to Oklahoma State here in 2013 as a No. 10 seed.
DePaul is one of the best offensive teams in the country, and its 83.7 points per game rank sixth in Division I. The Blue Demons have one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters in Megan Rogowski, who hit a school-record 101 from beyond the arc while converting at a 45.7 percent clip and was one of five players to make at least 30.
Guards Brittany Hrynko and Chanise Jenkins also are scoring in double figures at 12.5 and 10.8 points per game, respectively, and both are ranked in the top 50 in assists nationally. The Blue Demons set a single-season school record with 285 3-pointers, which was also 120 more than their opponents.
Yet for all the superlatives of the season, coach Doug Bruno – who has guided DePaul to all 19 of its NCAA tournament appearances, isn’t taking anything for granted.
”We’re similar to Oklahoma in the sense that when we’re good, we’re really good,” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. ”But we can also be average if we’re not playing well.”
The Sooners are in the field of 64 for the 15th straight year, but sweated out the selection process after finishing sixth in the Big 12. They went 4-11 against NCAA tournament-bound teams this season, and their brutal non-conference schedule – including games against Louisville, Duke, Marist and Gonzaga – was enough to put them over the top.
"This group has hung in there, and they’ve scratched and clawed," said coach Sherri Coale, who has guided Oklahoma to three Final Four appearances. "We have another shot at life…we don’t intend to take that for granted."
Oklahoma has a perimeter threat of its own in Aaryn Ellenberg, who averaged a team-high 18.8 points and shot 35.3 percent from 3-point range, and Nicole Griffin is the best interior threat at 10.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. The Sooners also play solid defense, limiting opponents to 67.8 points per game on 38.1 percent shooting.