Team effort is not enough as Cowgirls fall to Oklahoma

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OSU forward Natasha Mack looks to shoot during the Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma women's basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

A slow start to bedlam from Oklahoma State’s Vivian Gray and Natasha Mack was not what the Cowgirls needed during Bedlam Wednesday night. But that’s what they got throughout the opening half of the contest. 

While the Cowgirl stars struggled, the rest of the team did not as Bedlam rivals Oklahoma defeated the Cowgirls, 77-75. 

Clitan de Sousa shot 7-for-11 from the field and produced her season high 15 points for OSU (10-4, 1-1 Big 12). Freshman Guard Micah Dennis finished with eight points, including a three-bounce 3-pointer in the middle of the fourth quarter. Cowgirl coach Jim Littell explained his thoughts about the efforts from de Sousa.

“I thought (Clitan de Sousa) made some plays and did some good things, but we’ll go back on tape,” Littell said. “There’s some bad turnovers too, but that had an effect too.”

But the struggles from Gray and Mack prevented the Cowgirls from capitalizing on the tight defensive effort that forced Oklahoma (8-6, 1-1 big 12) into 30 turnovers on the night. 

At halftime, Oklahoma State only managed to have a 5-point lead, despite their dominance for most of the half. The lead grew heading into the final quarter of the contest, with the Cowgirls outscoring the Sooners 19-18 in the third. 

Mack found her shooting touch in the second half of the contest. After fighting through a 3-for-10 first half, she bounced back with a 6-for-10 second half and seemed to be getting more looks that she wanted. Gray had not. 

After shooting 17% from the field in the first half, Gray managed to shoot 36% from the field in the second on 14 shot attempts. On the night, Gray shot 7-for-26 as the focal point for the Cowgirls. Gray owned up to the way the team played down the stretch.

“I think our biggest problem tonight was a lack of communication,” Gray said. “We didn’t communicate on switches, on screens and things like that. And that really hurt us … I didn’t play how I needed to play. I got down on myself, let my team down. That’s on me.”

While the Cowgirl defense had looked consistent all night long, the fourth quarter was uncharacteristic from the Cowgirls on the perimeter. Trailing by 13, OU's Taylor Robertson had her way from deep down the stretch, shooting 7-for-11 from behind the three-point line. Robertson took over the game for Oklahoma when it mattered most, scoring a 3-pointer and getting fouled in the process to kick-start the run that stunned the Cowgirls. Littell was disappointed with the way the Cowgirls defended in the final minutes. 

“Anytime we give up 30 in a quarter, we are not finishing it off,” Littell said. “I don’t know if we thought the game was over, but as we see it wasn’t. With the three-point line and a prolific shooter like (Taylor) Robertson, you’ve just got to finish it out.”