STILLWATER — Oklahoma State knew it had done enough to make the field of 64 for the NCAA Tournament.
Still, nerves flew through the club level of Boone Pickens Stadium as the Cowgirls and about 300 supporters gathered in front of a big-screen television to watch Monday evening's selection show.
Destinations where OSU had been projected to land — College Station, Spokane, Iowa City — popped on the screen with different teams heading to those cities. Tiffany Bias and Brittney Martin got up to walk around during a commercial break.
Then after more than half the field had been revealed, OSU was announced as the No. 7 seed in the Norfolk Regional, with a first-round matchup against 10th-seeded DePaul set for Sunday afternoon in Durham, N.C.
“It came kind of late,” coach Jim Littell said. “There was a little anxiety going. I was afraid we were gonna have to charge all the people for the ice cream if we didn't make it.”
Added Bias: “We were nervous the whole time. I don't know why we were nervous, just to find out where we go. But it's just a great feeling, just how hard we worked throughout the summer and this year, kept pushing through games that were tough.”
It's the Cowgirls' first trip back to the Big Dance since 2010, when an Andrea Riley-led squad advanced to the second round. Seniors Toni Young and Lindsey Keller are the only Cowgirls that remain from that team.
Bias and Littell both admitted they've kept tabs on the Bracketology projections in recent weeks, which generally predicted OSU as a No. 6 or 7 seed. But Littell had never really considered spending opening weekend in Durham, where the Cowgirls will play in historic Cameron Indoor Stadium on Duke's campus.
In DePaul, OSU draws a team that finished tied for sixth in the always-challenging Big East Conference. The Blue Demons are making their 11th consecutive tournament appearance under longtime coach Doug Bruno.
The winner of the contest between OSU and DePaul will play the winner of the first-round game between second-seeded Duke and 15th-seeded Hampton.
After the Cowgirls' matchup was announced, Littell grabbed a microphone and addressed the crowd.
He talked about his team's quality wins against Iowa State, Oklahoma and West Virginia. He assured that if the Cowgirls play the way they did in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals against Baylor, they can challenge any team in the country. And he congratulated his players for earning the right to play in the NCAA Tournament.
“I'm very proud of the young ladies, what they've accomplished the last couple years,” he said. “This is just a nice progression for our program to get to the NCAA Tournament.”