KANSAS City, Mo. 一 Oklahoma State’s comeback hopes were erased in the most ironic way possible — an off target three.
The Cowgirls lost to the West Virginia Mountaineers 59-50 on Saturday in Kansas City. The loss eliminated OSU in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
The Cowgirl offense struggled mightily throughout most of the game. OSU had just 21 points at halftime in route to a season low 50-point performance.
Freshman forward Taylen Collins picked up a pair of fouls less than two minutes into the game and had to go to the bench.
“Taylen is a very integral part of what we do,” Littell said. “She picked up a tough foul where it was a hustle foul in the backcourt, but then the next ones she’s got to learn at times that you let them go. I told her you can’t pick up two fouls in the first two minutes. She’s a freshman. She wants to be a good player, and she’ll listen.”
Ja’Mee Asberry, the top 3-point threat for the Cowgirls, had another off-night shooting the ball in Municipal Arena. The junior was 2-11 on 3-pointers and shot 24% from the field.
“I didn’t think we played very well,” Littell said. “And then you couple that with the idea that we didn’t shoot it very well, we shot 30% from the floor and 10% from the 3-line. That’s difficult to win when you mix those numbers into it.”
Despite their challenges, the Cowgirls embodied the words coach Jim Littell reminded them of in the locker room after their win against OU: “Never give up.”
With under eight minutes remaining, OSU was down 17 points. The Cowgirls finally got into gear offensively, using baskets in transition to break through.
OSU coupled that success with a pair of Natasha Mack blocks and three forced turnovers to cut its deficit to six late in the game.
With 3:20 remaining the OSU blitz — and aspirations of a comeback — were stopped when sophomore guard Kirsten Deans hoisted a deep shot with one second remaining on the shot clock.
Deans was closer to half court than the 3-point line, but it did not matter. She lined it up, and the frenzied shot hit the backboard before dropping in.
“Those hurt,” Littell said. “You feel like you played pretty good defense and then they do that.”
It was not all bad for the Cowgirls, Mack had a characteristically monster game, compiling 19 points, nine rebounds and a whopping eight blocks.
While Mack’s performance in particular visibly boosted the energy of the OSU bench, the sweet embrace of leather and glass from Dean's shot shifted the game's momentum in WVU’s favor.
The Mountaineers seized control of the game after Deans shot, and did not relinquish it, allowing them to be the ones advancing to face Baylor on Sunday for the Big 12 Conference Championship.
“We’ve got to play better,” Littell said. “We have another opportunity to show what we are capable of. This is a time of the year that all your hard work is giving you an opportunity to play in the big 12 tournament and then the NCAA Tournament.”