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Tournament target: Cowgirls look to break losing skid in Kansas City

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A reporter asked Naomie Alnatas whether she felt anxious to play in the Big 12 Tournament.

Alnatas said, simply, “No.”

Should she? The Cowgirls enter the postseason amid their first three-game losing streak, slumping at a dangerous time.

OSU coach Jacie Hoyt said she felt there is no hump for the Cowgirls to get over, nothing has been off throughout their three-game losing streak to end the regular season, they just got ‘too comfortable.’

Hoyt, Alnatas and the Cowgirls open play at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City on Friday at 11 a.m. versus West Virginia, a team they lost to a week ago in Morgantown. The Cowgirls’ losing streak started on Feb. 26 at Kansas and will run into the conference tournament. Hoyt said teams such as West Virginia and Kansas, who are on the bubble according to ESPN’s latest Bracketology, are hard to play this late in the season.

“I think we got to a place where we had won a lot, we kind of became content and not intentionally,” Hoyt said. “That was kind of a wake-up call, teams at this time of year are playing for something more. They’re playing to play in March. However, I feel our team has responded really well in film sessions and practice.”

A three-game skid is the largest streak this season, but if the Cowgirls drop a fourth-straight game on Friday, the season’s momentum is completely lost and never would a team want to enter the NCAA Tournament on an extended losing streak. That’s why a win, or two, in Kansas City would bode well for the Cowgirls’ momentum. Hoyt said she wants to stay a few days in Kansas City and make a statement.

“We don’t want to go to Kansas City and walk through the door, we need to bust the door down,” Hoyt said. “That’s the mindset and attitude that we’re coming with. I believe we’re going to see a very motivated team on Friday. We want to get that momentum, but we also are just sick of losing. We want to get that taste of winning again.”

Hoyt said she felt good going into the losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma last week because the preparation from the players went well, but sometimes a loss is still the outcome.

In Saturday’s loss to OU, the Cowgirls didn’t make a 3-pointer in the second half and couldn’t find a spark on offense, leading to a Taylor Robertson takeover and a loss.

In the March 1 loss at West Virginia, the Cowgirls failed to contain Mountaineer guards Madisen Smith and Ja’Naiya Quinerly, who combined for 37 points and defeated OSU 71-67.

What’s been different for the Cowgirls since its February six-game win streak turned into a three-game skid? Well, there’s a couple, but none bigger than the inconsistency in scoring.

The past three games, OSU struggled to put together a consistent scoring effort after halftime. The third quarter has been trouble for OSU. At Kansas, OSU scored nine points, 12 at WVU and 10 against OU. 

The ‘magic’ number for the Cowgirls this season is 73. When the Cowgirls score 73 or more points, they are 17-1, 9-1 in conference play. If it’s less than 73?  OSU is 3-9.

"Just couldn't get anything offensively going," Hoyt said on Saturday. "I felt we got the looks we wanted, they just didn't go in."

The thought of three-straight losses is not easy to forget, but Hoyt said the Cowgirls don’t want to forget the feeling of losing, they want to use it as motivation.

“We definitely haven’t forgotten,” Hoyt said. “It’s fuel for us and very motivating. We’ve had a lot of team talks and discussion and I really believe in just a player-led team, and I’ve seen them do a great job of stepping up and leading in their own ways. We’re upset, we’re mad. The standard for us is to win and we want to get back to that.”