Mack enjoying time in Stillwater, challenge of No. 2 Baylor

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OSU forward Natasha Mack looks on during the Oklahoma State vs. Kansas women's basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

On Thursday afternoon after the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team finished its practice, the players took their time going back to the locker room. 

Talking and messing with one another, they were having fun just being around their teammates. And there was one player who was in no hurry at all. 

Natasha Mack. 

A few minutes earlier, she had been completely in the zone, focusing on each thing the coaches were saying and encouraging her teammates. Now, she was laughing and smiling as she messed with fellow teammate Abbie Winchester. 

Mack, a 6-foot-4 junior forward from Lufkin, Texas, previously attended Angelina College, a community college in Lufkin. Although she and her team had success there, Mack said her time at OSU has been amazing.

“I love it so much. I love the the people, the atmosphere, my teammates,” Mack said.

However, the other Cowgirl players aren’t the only ones who know she loves her team. OSU coach Jim Littell, knows it as well. 

“First of all, she’s just a great teammate,” Littell said. “Everybody on the team loves her, and our fanbase loves her. She’s a neat kid, and a lot of fun to be around on a daily basis.”

But, let’s not forget this: Mack is playing well - extremely well. 

In the Cowgirls’ last two games against West Virginia and Oklahoma, Mack combined for 46 points and 33 rebounds. 

After the game against Kansas in which she posted 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine blocks, she was one block short of the second triple-double in OSU history. 

Her impact is resounding, and Littell acknowledges that along with being a great player, she brings a lot to this Cowgirl team. 

“She’s a dominant rebounder, will score in and will also score out, but we have more of a need for her to be inside right now,” Littell said. “She’s shown us where she can step out and hit the 15-footer.”

Although the transition from a community college to a Division I school such as OSU seems like quite a leap - her early success at Angelina was indicative of her present success. 

Mack led Angelina as a freshman to a 29-4 record and the school’s first-ever appearance at the national tournament, setting a career scoring record and becoming the nation’s leader in blocks on the way. She also became the first Angelina College athlete to earn first-team All-America status and named national player of the year. 

As the statistics show, the transition for Mack on the court was seamless.

“It was a little bit of a challenge with time management, and realizing all of my time is going to basketball and school,” Mack said. “It was really good other than that, though. My team helped me out a lot.”

Even though Mack’s performances both in practice and games push the players around her to get better, she is motivated by them as well. 

In fact, when asked what she attributes her success to, she credited her teammates without hesitation.

“They push me every day, because they expect the best out of me,” Mack said. “If I don’t do something, they look at me funny like ‘Come on, ‘Tasha, that’s not you.’ I just work really hard, and contribute my success to my teammates.”

On Saturday at 7 p.m., the Cowgirls will face Baylor, a team that’s ranked first in the Big 12 and second nationally with just one loss. 

“We play, in my opinion, the best team in the country, so it’s a big challenge, and it’s a challenge every night in our conference,” Littell said. 

As to who will have the best performances on each team is unknown, but there is one thing that can be said. 

Players like Mack are few and far between.  

“She’s a double-double kid every night,” Littell said. “Those are hard to find.” 

Sports.ed@ocolly.com