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Hot second quarter leads Cowgirls past Wake Forest

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Baylor Oklahoma St Basketball

Oklahoma State guard Neferatali Notoa, center, drives between Baylor guard DiJonai Carrington , left, and guard Moon Ursin, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald, via AP)

Time out Wake Forest.

That seemed to be all the Demon Deacons could do to slow down the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team once the second quarter started.

In the Cowgirls 84-61 rout in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the adjustment came between the first and second quarter. OSU forced the issue, wreaking havoc en route to, arguably, their best stretch of play.

The Cowgirls' intensity blossomed immediately after the second quarter began. OSU took advantage of the break, converting on a Neferatali Notoa 3-pointer on the possession with a beautiful play design.

A Wake Forest turnover afterward set up the Cowgirls offense again, allowing Micah Dennis to take a turnaround jumper. Another turnover started a sequence leading to a Notoa layup.

Then a travel piled on to the miscues for Wake Forest. Natasha Mack capitalized with a jumper on the other end. Suddenly, the 15-15 tie at the start of the frame became a 24-15 lead. OSU coach Jim Littell’s team began asserting itself, and it worked.

“I just think it was a six or seven minute span where we were very active defensively, and that created a lot of offense for us,” Littell said. “And the kids were having fun. They like playing that way. They like playing up tempo, and I believe that’s how we play the best. They got going and it was fun to watch them.”

In total, the 19-5 run separated the teams. The Demon Deacons had a few good stretches, making 3-pointers to trim the lead. OSU, the 8-seed in the tournament, never wavered from Mack, its solution to every Wake Forest comeback attempt.

Mack’s touch around the rim only improved as the game continued. She finished with 27 points, 15 rebounds and 4 assists.

OSU guard Ja’Mee Asberry added 18 points, including four 3-pointers.

The Cowgirls will need another run of similar caliber on Tuesday, when they face the winner of top-seeded Stanford and 16-seed Utah Valley for a spot in the Sweet 16.