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DePaul women hope to end futility streak against Tennessee

AnnMart(5) Brittany Hrynko (12) Jasmine Penny whoop it up after Demons nipped BYU. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

Anna Martin (5), Brittany Hrynko (12) and Jasmine Penny whoop it up after the Demons nipped BYU. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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NCAA women’s tournament

DePaul vs. Tennessee

The facts: 8:30, ESPN2.

Updated: April 20, 2012 8:13AM

Elated and emotionally spent after his team’s pulse-pounding 59-55 victory against BYU in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night at Allstate Arena, DePaul coach Doug Bruno had little time to savor the moment.

The victory for the No. 7 seed Blue Demons means a return engagement Monday night with No. 2 seed Tennessee, which thrashed Tennessee-Martin 72-49 in its tournament opener. To qualify for their second consecutive Sweet 16 appearance in the Des Moines Regional, the Blue Demons (23-10) must do something no DePaul team has done: beat the Volunteers.

“We play them all the time, and we’re something like 0-18 or 0-19 against them,” Bruno said. That lopsided series history includes the Lady Vols’ 84-61 victory against the Blue Demons on Dec. 11 at Madison Square Garden.

“We’re a completely different team from the team that played Tennessee earlier in the year,” Bruno said.

DePaul is hardly alone in suffering untold losses at the hands of Tennessee (25-8). Coach Pat Summit has more victories (1,096 in 38 years) than any college basketball coach and boasts eight national titles.

The program has taken on a more somber and circumspect note since Summit’s revelation she is suffering from early onset dementia. She was on the bench Saturday, but her top associate, Holly Warlick, ran the team. Summit didn’t speak to the media after the game.

“Pat Summit is a competitor,” Warlick said. “If she plays her mother in checkers, she wants to beat Miss Hazel.”

Tennessee-Martin coach Kevin McMillan packed the lane to thwart star Tennessee forward Glory Johnson and dare the Lady Vols to convert perimeter shots and three-point attempts. It worked for most of the first half, enabling the Skyhawks to remain close. Tennessee’s depth — it got 38 points from its bench — eventually wore out the smaller Skyhawks.

DePaul’s uphill battle is no different than what the Blue Demons have confronted since losing three starters and five rotation players to injuries. Bruno gave his five starters heavy playing time, averaging between 35-38 minutes.

With his reduced roster, Bruno has become more of a riverboat gambler and has played more zone. BYU coach Jeff Judkins praised Bruno’s strategies, saying the Blue Demons’ matchup zone caused his teams considerable problems.

DePaul has its own Southern comfort, Kentucky-raised junior star Anna Martin, whose 17 points against BYU led the Blue Demons. Her precision shooting and craftiness with the ball helped seal the victory.

“It’s just about defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball,” Martin said. “[Tennessee is] a really long and athletic team. We’re going to battle them, and hopefully we’re going to come out with a win.”

Asked her response, Martin’s backcourt mate, freshman Brittany Hrynko, ­deferred.

“She pretty much said it all.”

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