NORMAN – Bragging rights headed back to Stillwater with the Oklahoma State women's basketball team.
OSU marched into Norman on Saturday afternoon and grinded out a gritty 70-67 thriller for a Bedlam season sweep and its second victory in three years against Oklahoma at Lloyd Noble Center.
The lead changed 10 times, and the score was tied five times. The game was back and forth all afternoon, but it all came down to the final seconds.
As soon as the ball was tipped, coach Jim Littell said he knew it would be a dogfight of a contest.
“When you go on the road, we talk to our players every day about having the ability to grind a game out and win ugly,” Littell said. “I think that’s what we did today.”
After a slow start, senior Kaylee Jensen contributed her skills when it mattered most: in crunch time. OU coach Sherri Coale said she was impressed with how Jensen made an impact down the stretch with such a seemingly cool demeanor.
“She made big plays, really big plays,” Coale said. “Those are tough shots … and she just calmly put the ball in the basket.”
OSU went into the half up seven after a second quarter in which Jensen scored all nine of her first-half points. The Sooners answered in the third quarter and won the frame by six. OU took it to the fourth with a long buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Ana Llanusa to make it a one-point Cowgirl lead in the last 10 minutes.
OU continued its hot-shooting ways in the fourth and stretched the lead out to seven with just more than five minutes left, but the Cowgirls never looked rattled despite a strong presence from the Lloyd Noble Center crowd.
Jensen showed up big after the Cowgirls found themselves down by seven. She muscled her way into the paint numerous times and hit two huge 3s, one to give OSU a 60-59 lead and another to give the Cowgirls a 66-63 lead.
She snagged 13 rebounds and scored 14 of the last 20 points to get the victory. Motivation to get the Bedlam sweep, which the Cowgirls have claimed twice with Jensen on the team, was a large part of why OSU conjured up such an efficient closing performance.
“It just is such a good feeling that we got to be able to do it again,” Jensen said. “It kind of gets under your skin when you can’t get that win, but when you do, I don’t ever think I’ve had a feeling much better than it.”
Freshman Braxtin Miller was in the clutch as well. Miller hit a 3 to cut the Sooners' lead to four when it seemed like the game was about to slip away from the Cowgirls.
In the last seconds, following a travel call on an OU layup that would have given the Sooners the lead, Miller sank two free throws to close the game.
“I was really nervous,” Miller said. “But the key to free throws is just having confidence in yourself.''
This past week was huge for the Cowgirls' hopes of contending for a Big 12 conference regular-season crown. OSU has set itself up for a run at the top with a victory against West Virginia on Wednesday and now a Bedlam victory on the road.
“It wasn’t a pretty game in a lot of respects,” Littell said. “It was one of those grind-it-out games that you gotta have to be competitive in the Big 12.”