Brittany Hrynko had been DePaul's top scorer and maybe its toughest competitor all season. The sophomore just couldn't knock down a shot for the Blue Demons once they reached the NCAA tournament.
Hrynko went 2 for 17 from the floor, including a 1-for-11 performance from 3-point range, in DePaul's 73-56 loss to Oklahoma State on Sunday in the first round of the Norfolk Region. Her struggles was the best example of DePaul's miserable afternoon on offense, including an 8½-minute scoring drought that made it a one-and-done showing in the Blue Demons' 11th straight NCAA appearance.
The 5-foot-8 guard, who came in averaging about 15 points per game, finished with 11 and one assist against six turnovers.
"She's been a really good, tough player for us," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "When she's not making shots, she needs to facilitate. That's just one of those situations where you just have to find the open man."
Hrynko came in shooting about 35 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range. It wasn't the first time this year that she struggled with her shot — most notably she went 0 for 15 in a loss at Connecticut in February — but this was the worst possible time for it to resurface.
"She's had great nights for us where she does score the ball," Bruno said. "I just wish, 2 for 17 is a tough night."
For Oklahoma State, Toni Young scored 20 of her 25 points in the first half and finished with 13 rebounds.
Liz Donohoe added 14 points for the seventh-seeded Cowgirls (22-10), who blew nearly all of a 16-point lead before taking back control with a 13-0 run.
Oklahoma State shot 46 percent to earn its first tournament win in three years, sending the Cowgirls to Tuesday night's second round to face No. 2 seed and site host Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Anna Martin scored 12 points for the 10th-seeded Blue Demons (21-12), who managed to pull within a point with about 14 minutes left despite struggling on offense the entire afternoon. But DePaul missed 15 straight shots and went nearly 10 minutes without a basket during an ugly stretch.
That gave Oklahoma State an opening to take back momentum.
Tiffany Bias pushed the ball after a made basket for a quick score to start the run. Then Kendra Suttles scored on a stickback and added a pair of free throws, and Donohoe knocked down a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 54-44 near the 9-minute mark.
After Lashawn Jones' stickback, Young ended the run with a turnaround shot for her first basket since the 7:01 mark of the first half, making it 58-44 with 7:24 to play.
DePaul never got close again. The Blue Demons shot 25 percent (20 for 80) from the field and 22 percent (8 for 37) from behind the arc.
Oklahoma State won the WNIT in its first year under Jim Littell, who took over following the deaths of coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna in a November 2011 plane crash. Littell had the Cowgirls back in the NCAAs for the first time since reaching the second round in 2010, though only two players - Young and fellow senior Lindsey Keller - had any tournament experience.
Young certainly played like the veteran determined to lead the way early.
The 6-foot-2 forward, who came in averaging about 16 points and 10 rebounds, hit her first eight shots. When she finally missed on a reverse layup, she grabbed a loose rebound and scored on a putback on the way to 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting to go along with seven rebounds by the break.
With Young dominating the opening half, Oklahoma State's offense hummed right along. The Cowgirls shot nearly 56 percent (20 for 36), scored 12 points off turnovers and led by 16 before taking a 42-31 halftime lead.