DePaul puts on the pressure

That was the plan. Not the plan specifically for this game, although there were some tweaks to make sure someone, if not someones, stayed on Liston's hip at all times. The plan DePaul put in place back in October. The plan Bruno hopes to use every season. As he put it, it makes for a better show.

"We just wanted to take their legs because we like to run," Megan Rogowski said. "They're an opportunistic running team. They will, but they prefer not to. But we wanted the game going a lot faster. We wanted to get them going, and that's what we did -- pressure them and make them feel uncomfortable with the ball."

It still appeared DePaul might have squandered all that work by leaving too many points on the floor in the first half. Despite the frenetic tempo, despite 10 more shots by the Blue Demons than their opponent, the scoreboard had DePaul ahead just 27-24 at halftime. And like games earlier this season against Notre Dame and Kentucky in which DePaul was level or close at the break only to give ground -- and too many easy layups-- in the second half, Duke took its first lead of the game just minutes into the second half.

It held its first and only lead for just 10 seconds, Megan Podkowa's 3-pointer in reply setting off an 11-2 run.

After hitting just 5 of 17 3-pointers in the first half, DePaul hit 9 of 16 shots from behind the arc in the second half. The team's two leading scorers on the day with 22 and 18 points, respectively, Rogowski and Podkowa combined for seven 3-pointers and 29 points in the second half.

"It was definitely a big shot," Rogowski said of Podkowa's answer. "Even though we went down one or two points, I still felt like we were in control. Especially her making that shot, it really kept us going, believing we were still in control of the game and even if we're down, we'll hit a big shot."

It makes it easier to believe when you can still breathe. As much as Williams, Peters and Liston tried to bring the Blue Devils back, there just wasn't enough left in their legs. An 86 percent free throw shooter, Liston left one short. Off a block at the other end, one of seven in the game, Williams missed a layup, got the rebound, missed again, got the rebound and finally got to the free throw line on her third attempt -- which wouldn't fall for a three-point opportunity.

DePaul has been there. Season after recent season, whether Keisha Hampton, Anna Martin, Deirdre Naghton or others, it has reached the NCAA tournament something less than whole. It was the case a season ago, when the Blue Demons couldn't pressure Oklahoma State, not with effectively seven healthy players. This time they had the backcourt of Rogowski, Chanise Jenkins, Jessica January and Brittany Hrynko, whose fearlessness bordering on recklessness paced her team from start to finish. They had Podkowa, Jasmine Penny and more bodies in reserve.

This time they were the team that kept running as the favorite wobbled and finally fell under the weight of 21 turnovers and not enough touches inside.

Small beat big in DePaul's first tournament appearance as a member of a new Big East trying to prove it remains relevant against the likes of the ACC.

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