DePaul Women Survive Oklahoma; Duke Next

DURHAM, NC - In last year's NCAA Tournament first round appearance, a loss to Oklahoma State, DePaul's visit to Durham lasted roughly 48 hours. This year's visit will last twice as long.

DePaul (28-6) placed six players in double figures, and survived a second half Oklahoma comeback to beat the Sooners 104-100 and advance to round two.

This was the most combined points in an NCAA Tournament regulation game, and DePaul's 104 points was its highest-ever NCAA Tournament single game point output.

For DePaul, today was a matter of everything is alright, to everything is not alright, to ultimately things being alright once again.

A sixteen point DePaul halftime lead was reversed to an 82-79 Oklahoma lead midway through the second half before DePaul's Megan Rogowski sank a three-pointer from the left corner with just under one minute, giving the Blue Demons the lead for good.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said before the game that what her team was never able to get during the course of Big 12 play was momentum. The Sooners got it today with roughly ten minutes left to play.

Sharane Cambell hit two free throws to end a 14-2 Sooners' run and gave Oklahoma a 78-77 lead, its first lead since 17:15 of the first half.

Things then kept being not alright for DePaul as Jasmine Penny fouled out with 7:48 to play. Penny finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists.

Brittany Hrynko's back to back three-pointers pushed DePaul back in the lead at 87-86 with 5:16 left to play. Hrynko finished with 19 points and a game-high five assists.

"In the huddles we gathered ourselves and let each other know that we were still in the game, that we still had time, and that we just had to stay together and make sure we kept playing smart," said Hrynko.

Oklahoma's Aaryn Ellenberg was fouled on a three-pointer, and her three free throws tied the game at 95 with 1:20 left.

Ellenberg has scored 60 percent of her points in the second half this year, and she was true to form today, with 26 of her game-high 36 points coming in the second stanza.

Hrynko answered Ellenberg with a drive and layup, setting up Rogowski's three-pointer with forty-one seconds to play and the scored knotted at 97.

"The only play that stood out to me [in the game] was me getting the ball to Megan" said Hrynko. "I know it wasn't a great pass, but I got it to her and she still had time get it off."

Hrynko was doubled on the left wing and she got her pass to Rogowski in the left corner. Rogowski had missed her prior three-point attempts.

"I felt like with every three-point attempt I took, I had a clean look," said Rogowski. "Brittany got the ball to me and I had a clean look after two defenders collapsed on her."

Rogowski finished with a team-high 24 points to go along with a career-high tying eight rebounds, and three assists.

Ellenberg countered with a long three-pointer with seven seconds left, before Chanise Jenkins made two free throws with six seconds left to give DePaul a 104-100 lead.

"Believe it or not, nothing goes through my mind [when I shoot free throws]," said Jenkins. "I wipe everything from my mind and my main focus is just getting the ball to the rim and making sure it hits the bottom of the net."

Jenkins finished with 21 points on 7-12 shooting, 5-5 from the line, and four assists.

Ellenberg's three-point attempt with two seconds left was wide and Hrynko secured the rebound as the game ended.

This was just Coale's third first round NCAA Tournament loss in her 15 years of coaching the Sooners. Oklahoma and DePaul have combined for 27 NCAA appearances over the last 15 years.

The Big 12 was the only conference this year to place 60 percent of its teams in the NCAA Tournament. DePaul and St. John's were the only teams chosen from the Big East.

No. 10 seed Oklahoma (18-15) had been ranked No. 10 in the country early this season, winning its first three games, but the Sooners never won or lost two in a row the rest of the way. DePaul has now won 17 of its last 18 and eight in a row.

Oklahoma's first four made baskets of the game were three-pointers, but DePaul moved out to a 29-22 lead on back-to-back three-pointers by Rogowski and Hrynko. The Blue Demons closed the half on a 9-0 run on Penny's three-point play, a three-pointer by Megan Podkowa (13 points and six rebounds) and, with 1.5 seconds left, a Jenkins three-point play, giving DePaul a 50-34 lead.

"We reminded our players at halftime that Oklahoma came back from 31 down at Baylor and cut it to six," said DePaul coach Doug Bruno.

DePaul led 65-46 on a Jessica January three-pointer at 15:57 before the Sooners started their run. January finished with 14 points.

The Sooners are No. 140 in the country in three-point field goal defense at 31 percent, and their three-point defense today did nothing to dispel that statistic. DePaul shot 60 percent from behind the arc in the first half and 47.8 percent for the game.

DePaul is No. 3 in the country in assists at 19.8 per game, and dished out 20 assists today.

Bruno said at Media Day that his team's only choice at this point of the year was to "move forward and be the best that we can be."

Today they were, and Monday awaits.

Duke beat Winthrop 87-45 in the first game. No. 7 seed DePaul and No. 2 seed Duke play on Monday at 5:30 CST.

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