They failed to get into any type of offensive rhythm for the majority of the contest and sorely missed her presence in simply orchestrating the offense off the ball in falling 76-63 to the Vanderbilt Commodores.
"She's always the guy that's making the first cut, that starts everything and the motion," said OU head coach Sherri Coale. "So, now everybody's kinda looking around [saying], ‘Who's gonna make that cut? Who's gonna make that move?' And I felt like everyone was tentative."
That tentativeness played a huge part in OU's 20 turnovers, 15 of which came in the first half before OU started to settle down.
But they were already down double digits, 37-27, in fact, at half and couldn't overcome it.
Those turnovers were dispersed over seven of OU's eight active players, led by guard Sharane Campbell's five.
"Nicole Griffin was tentative on the inside," Coale said. "Sharane was tentative. Vegas tried to do too much. It resulted in five crazy turnovers in the first half, and that was the deal."
With a spirited effort in hustling to loose balls and rebounds, though, forward Joanna McFarland was able to keep OU within at least some striking distance.
Her game-high 11 boards kept the margin there surprisingly close at 38-37 Commodores even though it seemed like Vandy dictated everything on the glass.
"Without a doubt it was a battle," McFarland said. "They were very physical, and we tried to be very physical back. So, I mean, I was just trying to get rebounds and play hard like I can."
It most showed on a play where Ellenberg missed the front end of a one-and-one, McFarland fought for the rebound, then missed a pair of layups, but picked up two more rebounds before the possession ultimately ended with a missed chippie by Griffin.
Hustle, but nonetheless no result from it in a 60-48 game at the time.
That effort, however, didn't appear to be reciprocated across the board.
"I just think that some of us went out there and didn't play as hard as we could, and that's the number one thing we said to each other was just go out there and play hard and the game will come to us," said point guard Morgan Hook. "And I don't think as a team or as a whole we played as hard as we could have."
Because of it, the end result in OU's second setback of the season to eight victories arose.
While careless with the basketball, Ellenberg did lead the way with 21 points.
Griffin and Hook added 11.
For the Commodores, guard Christina Foggie guided four in double figures.
Vandy outshot OU 43.1 percent to 37.5 percent and dominated points in the paint 26-16.
And that leaves OU with plenty of work heading down the home stretch of non-conference play.
"You just go in the gym every day and try to get better," Coale said. "You just pay attention to the things that you can control. How hard do you run this cut? How well do you set this screen? Are you running in defensive transition? Are you communicating on matchups? There's lots of things that we can control that we didn't do very well tonight."
They'll get back to action with a 7 p.m. Thursday contest against UC Riverside at Lloyd Noble Center before capping off out-of-conference play Dec. 29 against Cal State Northridge.