By Andrew Glover
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – The Oklahoma State Cowgirls sat and watched the first three regions of the Women’s NCAA Tournament be announced without their name being called and some of their Big 12 rivals getting announced.
“I was like ‘come on, they got to call our name, they have to,’” sophomore guard Brittney Martin said.
In the last 10 minutes of ESPN’s hour-long NCAA Women’s selection show special, the Cowgirls found out they are the fifth seed in the Notre Dame Region and will face Florida Gulf Coast at 10 a.m. Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.
“We are very excited to make the tournament,” coach Jim Littell said. “We are going to play a good Gulf Coast team. Everyone is good. We are fired up and ready to go play.”
Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Iowa State found out their tournament destinations before the Cowgirls, who are making their second straight appearance. The selection came more than a week after Oklahoma State competed in the Big 12 Tournament, where it lost in the semifinals to Baylor. Senior point guard Tiffany Bias feels like they are ready.
“This week was good for us in getting things in order, getting everything fixed and our shot is good” Bias said. “I think we are ready for our game.”
Last season, Oklahoma State reached the second round where it was knocked out by Duke, who was playing on its home court. If the Cowgirls win Saturday, they will likely battle Purdue in the same situation on Monday. Martin said last season’s tournament experience will help them this season.
“It’s tough, it’s a little different than playing in the Big 12,” Martin said. “We just have to be ready for anything. ... “We got to go out there and play like we can play. We just go to give the effort we can. We can play against anybody.”
Saturday, will be the first time Oklahoma State (23-8) has seen Florida Gulf Coast (25-7). Littell said he and his staff is starting to get prepared.
“We are going to work on some film tonight,” Littell said. “Start on a scouting report. We will start getting prepared for them (today).”
Sooners earn 15th straight bid
NORMAN – Oklahoma earned a bid to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship for the 15th consecutive season as the 64-team tournament bracket was announced Monday night.
The Sooners (18-14), an at-large bid and a No. 10 seed in the Nebraska Region, will face No. 7-seed DePaul (27-6), the Big East champion at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Durham, N.C.
“We don’t ever for a second want to lose sight of what a hard thing this is to do,” OU head coach Sherri Coale said, “and what a special accomplishment it is to us to be in our 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament.
“That’s a reflection of a lot of hard work and the passionate commitment of a bunch of kids over the course of a lot of years. This group has hung in there, and they’ve scratched and clawed and gave themselves a chance to live again. We have another shot at life this basketball season. We don’t intend to take that for granted.”
The Sooners’ streak is the seventh longest active among Division I teams.
Led by 15.3 points per game from senior forward Jasmine Penny, DePaul went 15-3 in the Big East, claiming the conference’s regular season and tournament titles and an automatic bid.
“I know Doug Bruno well,” Coale added. “I know they’re extremely well-coached. They’re fundamental and they stick to their plan. I do know that, but I haven’t watched them play. Our coaching staff is in the office right now figuring that out and they’ll we watching them tonight.”
Oklahoma waited through a nervous selection process Monday, sitting on the tournament bubble while watching the bracket unveiled live on an ESPN broadcast at Coale’s home.
“It was a great feeling,” OU senior point guard Morgan Hook said. “I think a few of us even starting crying. I think we were so relived we still have another chance, another shot at life.”
– Phoenix wire report