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Cold-shooting DePaul women fall behind early in 84-65 loss to Aggies in regional semifinals

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LINCOLN, Nebraska — DePaul knew Texas A&M would clamp down on its outside shooting. It turns out that was just one problem for the Blue Demons on Saturday night.

Jasmine Penny had 16 of her 24 points in the second half, but DePaul struggled on offense in an 84-65 loss to Texas A&M in the regional semifinals of the NCAA women's tournament.

"We had some good shots early, and we missed them. There were some pretty good bunnies we left out there," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "Toughness is getting to the rack and finishing. We weren't a well-finishing team. We had our opportunities."

DePaul shot 28 percent from the field in the first half, going 2 for 11 from 3-point range. The Blue Demons improved to 51.5 percent in the second half, but they were unable to catch the Aggies.

The Blue Demons (29-7) were in the tournament for the 12th straight year and in the Sweet 16 for the third time. They had beaten Oklahoma 104-100 and second-seeded Duke 74-65 in the first two rounds and came to Lincoln averaging 84 points for the season. Their 65 points matched their season low.

DePaul, which shot 45 percent while making a combined 25 3-pointers in its first two tournament games, was 4 of 20 from long distance against an opponent that ranks among the best in the nation in 3-point defense.

"They took away our jump shots. They get into you," DePaul guard Megan Rogowski said. "It was hard to get jump shots. We needed to drive the ball more. You saw that in the second half when we made a run. But it was too late."

PHOTO: Texas A&M's Courtney Walker (33) tries to drive past DePaul's Brittany Hrynko (12) and Jessica January, left, during the first half of a regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Lincoln, Neb.(AP Photo/Dave Weaver)
Texas A&M's Courtney Walker (33) tries to drive past DePaul's Brittany Hrynko (12) and Jessica January, left, during the first half of a regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Lincoln, Neb.(AP Photo/Dave Weaver)

Courtney Walker scored 25 points for the Aggies (27-8), who will face defending national champion Connecticut on Monday night.

Rogowski had 14 points for the Blue Demons, who had won nine in a row. Megan Podkowa had 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

Texas A&M shot 60 percent and has won each of its three tournament games by at least 15 points. Karla Gilbert and Jordan Jones had 11 points apiece and Tori Scott added 10 for the Aggies.

"Their team has a great intermediate game," Rogowski said. "They had a lot of 15-footers that we weren't able to stop. They shot a ridiculous percentage."

Walker scored 13 points over a nine-minute stretch of the first half when the Aggies' lead grew from seven to 13 points. The Aggies led by 22 in the second half when Walker went the bench with three fouls, and DePaul went on an 11-2 run to close to 57-44.

Texas A&M got its lead back to 17 points, but the Blue Demons pulled to 10 with 6 minutes left. The Aggies then used a 12-2 spurt to make it a 20-point game again.

The Aggies are in the Elite Eight for the third time since 2008 and first since they won the national title in 2011.

Bruno will bring back nine players from the team that won the Big East's regular-season and tournament championships.

"I'm excited about the prospects for next year," he said. "We've done a lot here as a program. These women did a lot to beat Duke at Duke. But you have to understand that you have to be ready to grasp it and not assume we'll get it done against next year."

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