UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — — If Navy was supposed to roll over in its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, that memo never made it to the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Midshipmen, a No. 14 seed out of the Patriot League, figured not to stand much of a chance against the Big East Conference's DePaul Blue Demons, the No. 3 seed in the Philadelphia region.
When it was over, when Navy's best season ended with a 56-43 loss Saturday afternoon, senior point guard Angela Myers wiped her face before taking the dais, another reminder of how this tournament can end for players such as Myers so suddenly, when, in her case, it took four years to get here.
"I mean, who doesn't wanna win?" senior point guard Angela Myers said. "The reason that we're in that game is because we all believed that we could win. Even with two minutes left, we were just like, 'This game is not over.' "
For 36 minutes, Navy was within striking distance of springing the upset.
A Katherine Harry jumper from the left elbow with 3:30 left to play extended DePaul's lead to 11, enough of a margin to ensure a second-round match-up with Penn State at 7 Monday night.
"We played with a lot of heart," the Navy coach Stefanie Pemper said. "Defensively, we were really good for most of the game. Rebound and loose balls, we boxed out better than we've been. It wasn't good enough, but we were right there."
Not quite as comfortable as DePaul coach Doug Bruno would have liked.
"What you try to do as a coach is stay in the minute and stay in the second, stay in the moment and not let what happened previous aggravate you and not worry about something that's out there," Bruno said. "I try to teach my players to have anxiety over execution, not anxiety over results."
Navy trailed 24-21 at halftime, limiting DePaul to just 30.8 percent (12-for-39) shooting in the first half, including 0-for-10 from 3-point distance.
The only Navy lead came after a 3-point basket by Alix Membreno with 16:12 remaining in the second half. Myers, the 5-foot-5-inch point guard who paced Navy's slow, efficient tempo in the first half, leading all scorers with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting, was taken out of the game by DePaul in the second half. She finished with 13.
"It's a long 15 minutes," Pemper said about her team's ability to build off its lead. "I wasn't surprised DePaul had a little bit different notch."
Bruno employed a full-court press throughout the second half, often times putting the ball in someone other than Myers' hands. While there's no 10-second violation in women's basketball, the press killed time off the shot clock and forced a few of Navy's 23 turnovers.
"Definitely not nerves," Myers said. "I had seven of 'em, gosh. That was my fault. Purely my fault. I just wish I never gave the ball up, like never passed it."