Natasha Mack caught the ball at the free throw line.
She didn’t hesitate to dump it off to a cutting Taylen Collins, who came from the left corner. Collins’ momentum carried her into the ball’s path for the easy layup.
In Oklahoma State’s 80-73 senior night win against Iowa State, the Cowgirls had moments of brilliance and others needing corrections.
The Mack dime made it 21-14 OSU with 1:30 in the opening quarter, setting the tone for a dominant Cowgirls performance.
OSU (17-6 overall, 13-4 Big 12) gained a 42-22 lead, looking like a tournament team with swift ball movement and quality defensive discipline surely making OSU coach Jim Littell satisfied.
Suddenly, Iowa State found its mark. The Cyclones closed the half on a 13-0 run, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that took multiple hops on the rim, mitigating the 20-point deficit to 42-35.
“We were down a little bit at halftime,” Littell said. “Our kids realized that we let them back in the game… We had to point out to them, ‘We’re ahead and keep your head up and we’re just going to have to go back and do the things that we did to get the 20-point lead.’”
The task of winning didn’t get easier. Iowa State (14-9, 10-6) continued minimizing the deficit, eventually overtaking the Cowgirls for their first lead at 60-59 before the momentum swayed in the Cowgirls’ favor.
Mack managed to score 24 points, and junior guard Ja’Mee Asberry pitched in 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting to take the load of the attention each possession late, but it’s the effort from Collins and Lauren Fields that made the difference.
In the final minutes, Fields grabbed multiple steals, scoring on the break once and getting free throws on another occasion. Collins took the challenge of guarding Ashley Joens, using her energy to match the Iowa State forward.
The Cowgirls displayed trust in their younger players teams benefit.
“You don’t really have to tell them anything,” Mack said. “They just really follow the lead.”
The Cowgirls entered the game with a scoring margin of 11.2 points. OSU has only had one game end within five points. The Cowgirls don’t pay attention to the trend.
“We kind of don’t pay attention to stuff like that,” Asberry said. “When people say things like that. Or half the time we don’t notice someone said that. So, we really just play our game and do what we’re supposed to do.”