HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- With DePaul's Big East season over, coach Doug Bruno turned his attention to the NCAA tournament.
Bruno expects his Blue Demons to make the NCAAs for a 10th straight season and play in Chicago for the first two rounds which the school is hosting.
"We've put ourselves in position to earn that," said Bruno after his team fell in the Big East quarterfinals to No. 3 Notre Dame 69-54 on Sunday. "There are only 33 teams that do that if you don't win your league outright. I want them to understand that it's not something easy to do. People take it for granted. It's hard to earn your way into the NCAA tournament."
Bruno thinks his team's resume speaks well for an at-large bid.
"I don't want to be presumptuous here, but I think we've earned it," he said.
For the Blue Demons to be successful in the NCAA tournament, they will need to continue getting a balanced offense. On Sunday, DePaul leading scorer Anna Martin was bottled up by a stingy Notre Dame defense. The junior guard only had seven points after she put up 33 in the second round.
"This has never been the Anna show," Bruno said. "She's taken about 15 shots a game, and that's a pretty reasonable number for a scorer. She took 10 shots, that's a tribute to Notre Dame too. We're at our best when we're balanced."
The Irish used a variety of defenders to contain Martin, who is averaging 19.1 points.
"I think everybody did guard her a little bit and I think that probably trying to keep a little fresher defender on her was a little bit more effective," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
The Irish used a balanced offense to beat the Blue Demons.
Devereaux Peters had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks for the Irish. Natalie Novosel added 16 points and Kayla McBride had 14 for the Irish (29-2) who are coming off the program's first outright regular-season conference championship.
Katherine Harry had 10 of her 14 points in the first half for eighth-seeded DePaul (22-10).
Notre Dame took control of the game with a 14-0 run that began in the first half and ended three minutes into the second with a 3-pointer from Novosel that gave the Irish a 48-26 lead.
The Blue Demons fought back, cutting the lead to 11 on a jumper by Jasmine Penny with 7:30 left in the game.
But three straight layups from Peters along with a blocked shot on the other end stretched the lead back out to 17, and DePaul could get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
"Devereaux's a great defender, she got defensive player of the year in our league," Harry said. "She's really long and uses her length and has great timing on blocking shots. Give respect where respect is due. She got herself some easy buckets on getting some offensive rebounds."
DePaul hit four of its first six shots and led 10-7 early on the strength of two 3-pointers by Deanna Ortiz. But Notre Dame responded with an 11-2 run to take the lead for good.
Peters and Diggins scored the final two buckets of the half, and Notre Dame blocked three DePaul shots down the stretch to go into halftime with a 38-26 lead.
The Irish outrebounded DePaul 41-28 and Peters had six of the team's seven blocks.
"I think I'm just being smarter about which ones to block and which ones to go straight up and make them shoot over me," Peters said.
The Irish have now won two consecutive games at the XL Center. They closed the regular season with a 72-59 win over Connecticut to sweep the season series with the Huskies and secure sole possession of the regular-season conference title.
Notre Dame has never won a Big East tournament title, and hasn't won any conference tournament since taking the 1994 Midwestern Collegiate Conference crown.
The Irish shared the regular-season title with UConn in 2000-01 and went on to win the program's only NCAA championship that season.
Notre Dame has now won seven of the last eight meetings with DePaul, including a 90-70 win in South Bend on Feb. 5.
The Blue Demons have advanced past the tournament's quarterfinals just once since joining the conference and that was last year, when they lost to Notre Dame 71-67 in the semifinals.