As the ball came off the rim, Natasha Mack reached over the heads of several Sooners to secure it.
That was a common sight on Tuesday night at the Lloyd Noble Center as the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team defeated Oklahoma 73-69.
Junior forwards Mack and Vivian Gray led the Cowgirls (14-10 overall, 5-7 Big 12) to redemption against their Bedlam rivals.
Gray scored 24 points, while Mack had 23 points and 18 rebounds.
OSU coach Jim Littell said Gray played her best game of the year.
“Her pace that she played with, the composure, the confidence level she played at was really good,” Littell said.
Gray and Mack combined for 13 of OSU’s 23 fourth-quarter points, including four of the final six.
Gray said she is glad to be teammates with Mack.
“I know this is a simple thing, but she catches everything,” Gray said. “That’s a big deal. You throw her the ball, you know she’s gonna catch it. So, she’s a trustworthy player. I trust to throw her the ball. She finishes everything.”
Ana Llanusa led the Sooners (12-12, 5-7) with 26 points. She scored the final seven OU points as she tried to will her team to a comeback.
She said Mack’s presence made a big impact on OU’s offense.
“Just her long arms and how tall she is, and how small we are compared to her,” Llanusa said. “I mean, we just needed to find a way to be able to produce on offense around her.”
The Sooners started well and led by as much as eight in the first quarter. Although the Cowgirls came back and took the lead, the Sooners led at halftime and carried their momentum into the third quarter.
Between the end of the first half and first five minutes of the second, OU went on a 19-8 run and tried to take control. The Cowgirls fought back and held their largest lead, 11, midway through the fourth quarter.
Despite Llanusa hitting two late 3-pointers, the Cowgirls held on to the lead at the end by hitting their final four shots.
OU coach Sherri Coale said she thought OSU played well and the Sooners did not.
“We didn’t move,” Coale said. “We were just stagnant, we just stood. We got some good looks for (Taylor Robertson) early in the game and they didn’t go in, and it was like we just panicked. We’re so much better than that. It’s disappointing because it’s not how we play in practice every day.”
OU won the first meeting in Stillwater despite trailing by 13 with 2:18 left. Littell said the Cowgirls learned from the experience.
“I think we had a bunch of young ones that hadn’t been in that situation before,” Littell said. “We hurried, we took some shots, we thought that 12 was safe… (This time) we did a pretty good job of using all of the shot clock and then getting a pretty good shot at the end of it. You learn the hard way, and we learned the hard way in Stillwater, and I think our kids have grown from that and gotten better.”
After splitting the two Bedlam meetings, the Cowgirls and Sooners are T-6 in the Big 12 behind Kansas State.