LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)-- Courtney Walker is playing her best basketball of the season for Texas A&M. She is going to have to be even better in her next game.
Walker scored 25 points, and the Aggies beat DePaul 84-65 on Saturday night to advance to the regional finals of the NCAA women's tournament.
"The competition goes up," Walker said, "your play has to go up."
Walker and the Aggies will have to be at their best Monday night when they face defending national champion Connecticut, which defeated BYU 70-51 in the other semifinal for its 43rd win in a row.
"If we follow our game plan, play hard and not worry about the fact it says UConn on their jersey, we'll be fine," point guard Jordan Jones said. "So many get caught up in the hype of it being UConn. It's that mental aspect of it."
The Aggies (27-8) led the Blue Demons by 14 points at halftime and turned back two runs to win a third straight tournament game by at least 15 points.
"Yes, we can score points," Aggies coach Gary Blair said, "but we can defend, too."
DePaul (29-7) shot 40 percent against A&M's man-to-man defense, 28 percent in the first half. In their first two tournament games, the Blue Demons shot 45 percent while making a combined 25 3-pointers. They were just 4 of 20 from long distance against A&M.
"They played great defense and took away our jump shots," Megan Rogowski said. "They get into you. We needed to drive the ball more. You saw that in the second half when we made a run. But it was too late."
Courtney Williams had 14 of her 15 points in the second half for the Aggies. Karla Gilbert and Jordan Jones had 11 points apiece and Tori Scott scored 10.
Walker stepped up when the Aggies needed her the most. She's averaging 22.6 points over the last five games.
"She can stop, pop and rise. She's got that intermediate game, and very few people have that," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "She's a high-percentage 3-point shooter. Once we went to the zone, she was able to knock them down from out there."
The sophomore guard 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.
Jasmine Penny had 16 of her 24 points in the second half and Rogowski added 14 points for the Blue Demons. Megan Podkowa had 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Walker also starred on the defensive end, holding Brittany Hrynko to three points. Hrynko had a total of 33 against Oklahoma and Duke in the first two rounds of the tournament. Jones made five of the Aggies' 10 steals and held Chanise Jenkins, who had 25 points the last two games, to three.
The Aggies are in the Elite Eight for the third time since 2008 and first since they won the national title in 2011.
DePaul had won nine in a row. The Blue Demons 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 tournament and came in averaging 84 points for the season. Their 65 points matched their season low.
Walker scored eight points in a 10-2 run that put the Aggies in control in the first half. Her jumper made it 34-21, and the Aggies led 38-24 at the break.
"I'm just trying to find open shots when a lot of teams try to double the post," Walker said. "Karla gives us some good points in there. When they double her, I have to be ready on the back side."
- Today's all-session attendance was 9,585, which is the largest single-season to date in the 2014 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The previous high was 8,774 at Notre Dame earlier this afternoon.
- The attendance is the second-largest for a women's game at Pinnacle Bank Arena, trailing only the 9,750 fans who attended the Nebraska-UCLA game on Nov. 8, 2013, which is was the first regular-season basketball game at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
#3 Texas A&M Notes:
- With the win, Texas A&M improves to 27-8 on the season and will make its third NCAA Elite Eight in program history (also 2008 and 2011).
- Texas A&M makes their sixth appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16 and improves to 22-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 20-7 under Gary Blair.
- Texas A&M's senior class improves to 12-2 in the NCAA Tournament over the last four years, a total which is the third-best winning percentage among all programs. UConn, at 17-2, is first in that span.
- Today's matchup between the Aggies and DePaul was the second meeting between the two programs and first since an 84-71 DePaul victory on Nov. 25, 2005.
- Texas A&M shot a season-high 60.0 percent from the field today. The Aggies' previous season high was 58.5 percent shooting against both Auburn (March 7) and Arkansas (Feb. 27). The 60 percent shooting is also Texas A&M's best-ever shooting effort in an NCAA Tournament game.
- Texas A&M improved to 6-0 this season when scoring at least 80 points this season, including consecutive efforts in the NCAA Tournament (James Madison and DePaul). The Aggies have won all three of their NCAA Tournament games by at least 15 points
- Texas A&M held DePaul to a season-low 65 points, 19 points under their season average of 84.0 points per game. DePaul averaged 89.0 points per game in its first two NCAA contests.
- Courtney Walker finished with 25 points, her 12th straight game in double figures and 30th in 36 games this season. Walker now has 10 games with at least 20 points, while her 25-point effort was one shy of her career high set most recently against Tennessee on March 8, 2014
- Walker's 25 points ranks third in school history in an NCAA contest and is the most in an NCAA Tournament game for Texas A&M since Danielle Adams had 28 against Notre Dame on April 5, 2011.
- Walker is now averaging 20.7 points per game on 61 percent (23-of-38) in the NCAA Tournament
- Walker became the ninth player in school history to score 20 points in an NCAA Tournament game … it was the 15th 20-point effort by an Aggie all-time in NCAA play … the game was Walker's 10th 20-pt effort of the season.
- Jordan Jones had five steals against DePaul, the seventh time this season and 10th time in her career with at least four steals in a game. Jones also finished with 11 points and six assists and is averaging 11.0 assists per game in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Jones' 259 assists is fifth in SEC history.
- All five starters for Texas A&M finished in double figures, the first time all five Aggie starters finished in double figures this season.
- Texas A&M is 20-4 since Dec. 28 and has won 10 of its last 12 games.
- Texas A&M is 0-2 all-time against UConn, Monday's other regional finalist, with the Huskies winning regular-season meetings during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.
- Today's game marks the fifth time this season that Texas A&M won without hitting a 3-pointer. The Aggies were 0-of-2 from 3-point range.
- Texas A&M held a 22-17 lead at the 7:00 mark of the first half … the Aggies shot 88 percent the rest of the way (7-of-8) while holding DePaul to just 17 percent (2-of-12) in extending the lead to 14 heading into the locker room.
#7 DePaul Notes:
- DePaul finished the season 29-7, tying a school-record for victories. (2010-11 team also finished 29-7)
- Tonight's loss snapped DePaul's nine game winning streak and marked DePaul's largest margin of defeat this season.
- DePaul's 65 points equaled a season-low (vs. St. John's, March 11)
- Tonight's game marked just the second game this season DePaul failed to reach 70 points
- DePaul was 29-5 outside of Nebraska this year, 0-2 in Nebraska (lost 86-78 at Creighton, Jan. 4)
- DePaul's 38-24 halftime deficit was its largest halftime deficit of the season. Tonight's game marked just the fifth game this season the Blue Demons trailed at halftime. DePaul's 24 first-half points was a season low.
- DePaul's 22-point deficit (55-33) in the second half was its largest deficit of the season.
- Jasmine Penny finished with 25 points, the 12th time this season she's eclipsed 20 points.
- Brittany Hrynko dished four assists tonight to finish with 202 assists on the season. She joins Veronica Ross (1988-89 & 1989-90) as the only players in DePaul history to eclipse 200 assists in one season.
- Megan Podkowa blocked a season-high four shots to record 10 blocked shots in DePaul's three NCAA Tournament games.
- DePaul dished 12 assists in the game to extend their school record and finish the season with 705 assists.
- DePaul averaged 12.5 3-point field goals in its first two NCAA Tournament games, before making just four tonight.
- DePaul made four 3-point field goals, extending its school record to 314 on the season.
- Megan Rogowski made three 3-point field goals, extending her school-record and finishing with 114 3-pointers on the season.
- DePaul finished the season with 3,006 points scored, a school record.
- Today's game marked DePaul's third appearance in the Regional Semifinals (2006, 2011)
- DePaul is now 0-3 in Regional Semifinal games
- DePaul is now 12-19 (.387) all-time in NCAA Tournament games
- DePaul averaged 89 points in its first two NCAA Tournament games, before finishing with a season-low tying 65 points tonight.