DURHAM, N.C. – Aaryn Ellenberg showed why she was a unanimous All-Big 12 first-team selection.
Oklahoma’s senior guard gave a spectacular 36-point performance in the first round of the Lincoln Region on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to hold off DePaul in a 104-100 Sooner loss.
Ellenberg scored 26 points in the second half to lead a rally that erased a 19-point lead and put the Sooners up by five before the Blue Demons rallied for the win. The first-round loss is OU’s first since 2005, and the 100 points are the highest for a losing team in the women’s NCAA Tournament.
“Aaryn is a special, special player,” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. “When the game is on the line, she will try to take it over, and that’s what I told the players at halftime. And she did.”
Leading 50-34 at the half behind torrid 3-point shooting (60 percent), DePaul built its lead to 19 with 15:57 left before the Sooners began their run.
After getting outrebounded in the first half, OU became more aggressive on the boards and with its defense. Behind Ellenberg’s eight points, the Sooners needed less than three minutes to whittle the lead to single digits, 69-61, with 13:18 left.
DePaul’s Brittany Hrynko (19 points) made a layup to push it back to 10 before OU went on another run – this time 17-6 – to take a 78-77 lead, its first since the 14-minute mark in the first half.
“I am proud of the way they came back in the second half,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “We could have gone in a corner and hung our heads. I’m especially proud of our seniors and the leadership they showed.”
Four straight points by Sharane Campbell (22 points, 10 rebounds) built the Sooners’ lead to 84-79 with 6:29 remaining. But OU couldn’t stop the guard trio of Hrynko, Chanise Jenkins (21 points) and Megan Rogowski (24 points).