Oklahoma State, like other at-large selections to the women's NCAA Tournament, are coming off a loss as they start March Madness. But the Cowgirls' last game was a loss to Baylor that provided a confidence boost.
In the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship, the top-ranked Lady Bears escaped and upset bid, defeating Oklahoma State, 77-69. In the final minute, the Cowgirls trailed by three and had possession before a turnover.
"We played Baylor close, so I think we feel like we can play with anybody out here," Oklahoma State point guard Tiffany Bias said. "It just depends on how much we want it and how hard we're willing to work for it."
Oklahoma State returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 when it faces No. 10 seed DePaul Sunday in a first-round game of the Norfolk Region. The seventh-seeded Cowgirls won the Women's NIT championship last season.
"It's been a few years since we've been in the NCAA Tournament and as I told our crowd, I'm very proud of the young ladies and what they've accomplished the last couple of years," Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. "This is just a nice progression for our program to get to the NCAA Tournament."
DePaul essentially plays two point guards in Brittany Hrynko and Chanise Jenkins, allowing the Blue Demons to frequently get out in transition or use the dribble-drive to attack the basket and kick out to open teammates.
Defensively, Littell called DePaul a bit "unconventional," mostly because of their ability to trap at several spots on the floor. That means Bias will need help in handling the defensive pressure.
"First pass, they may go double it. The second pass, they may go double it," Littell said. "So what they get you into is instead of running plays, you've got to make plays against them."
No. 7 Oklahoma State (21-10) vs. No. 10 DePaul (21-11)
1:30 p.m. Sunday, Durham, N.C., ESPN2
Coaches: Jim Littell, Oklahoma State; Doug Bruno, DePaul.
Why they're here: Oklahoma State was an at-large selection from the Big 12. DePaul was an at-large selection from the Big East Conference.
Scouting the Cowgirls: Oklahoma State nearly pulled off the impossible. In their last game, the Cowgirls had the ball and trailed top-ranked Baylor by three. The Lady Bears won, but Oklahoma State should enter the NCAA Tournament with confidence. The Cowgirls have a potent and balanced attack. Forwards Toni Young and Kendra Suttles are versatile scorers and tough rebounders. Point guard Tiffany Bias runs the attack and has effective scorers in sophomore Liz Donohoe and freshman Brittney Martin.
Scouting the Blue Demons: Brittany Hrynko, a 5-8 sophomore guard, had a breakout sophomore season, averaging 14.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals and nearly five assists per game. She gives veteran coach Doug Bruno (he's been at the school 27 years) a player around which to build a game plan. The Blue Demons rely on their guards. Senior Anna Marin averages 15.7 points per game while freshman Chanise Jenkins averages 8.1 assists and 4.1 assists per game. DePaul attempts nearly 23 3-pointers per game and makes 30 percent from beyond the arc.