A blown lead ended up not costing Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.
The Cowgirls defeated Iowa State 80-73 in Gallagher-Iba Arena in their last Big 12 home game. The win ended a five-game win streak for the Cyclones in the series.
The Cowgirls (17-6 overall, 13-4) started fast and held a 42-22 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the second quarter.
OSU would not score the rest of the half, and the Cyclones (14-9, 10-6) would close on a 13-0 run including a three at the buzzer by Aubrey Joens. OSU coach Jim Littell said it’s hard to hold a lead against ISU with how they can shoot the three.
“We played as good as we could play in building the big lead,” Littell said. “We told our players at halftime that they were gonna come back and punch, and we needed to punch first.”
Earlier in the season, the Cowgirls blew a 17-point lead against Alabama and lost.
Littell was not down on his team for giving up the big lead on Saturday because he was impressed with how they responded. He said his team has grown a lot.
“In the past, when we blew a big lead like that, we wouldn’t come back and have the toughness to finish it off,” Littell said.
Two key players down the stretch were Ja’Mee Asberry and Taylen Collins.
Collins finished with 12 points, but defense was where she made her biggest impact. Littell said it might have been Collins best game for the way she guarded conference leading scorer Ashley Joens, who finished with 23.
“It was a whole different level of aggressive play for her,” Littell said. “Ashley Joens from Iowa State is a handful. That’s good holding her to that especially when they were going to her every time down the floor.”
For Asberry, a big night from her has become a theme this season. She finished with 21 points shooting 4 of 6 from three.
Littell said there is no doubt Asberry should be on the All-Big 12 first team.
“She’s gone from six points a game to 18 in conference play,” Littell said. “There’s a kid that deserves some recognition.”
Asberry is in her third and a half season with the Cowgirls. She enrolled early in the spring of the 2017-18 season because of an injury that cut her high school senior season short. Asberry said this team is different because they don’t get too high or too low.
“We don’t get too worked up,” Asberry said. “We really just do what we’re supposed to do, and the results are showing on the court.”
As expected, Cowgirl star Natasha Mack had a big game too. Mack finished with 24 points and six blocks.
For Mack, the game was bitter-sweet. While she was thrilled to get the victory, it was the last time she would play a game in Stillwater. As Mack sang the alma mater with her teammates one final time, tears streamed down her face.
“This was my last time playing in this gym with the people I love, so it just kind of hit hard,” Mack said. “To come out on top is amazing.”