It happened in the blink of an eye.
One minute Stephen F. Austin thought it might be able to hang with No. 16 Oklahoma State. The next, they found themselves in a 27-8 hole — a hole the Ladyjacks never dug themselves out of as the Cowgirls routed Stephen F. Austin 85-41 Thursday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
With just under 13 minutes left in the first half, Oklahoma State (7-0) went on a 20-0 run, effectively erasing all remnants of a slow start.
“They were pressuring pretty hard, so we kind of had to learn to get back into our offense and not get sped up too quick,” Oklahoma State senior forward Lindsey Keller said. “We just need to settle down and run our offense. We finally kind of figured that out as it got going. We calmed down, got into the game and got into the flow of it.”
The offense may get most of the credit for Oklahoma State’s big run, but it was the defense that propelled the Cowgirls to the victory. Stephen F. Austin (4-4) shot 25.5 percent from the field, including 20.7 percent in the first half as the Cowgirls held the Ladyjacks scoreless for over eight minutes en route to a 35-14 halftime lead.
“I really thought we took a step in the right direction,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “We had been focusing a lot about playing good defense and I thought we did an exceptional job defensively. Porsha Robert came in averaging about 17 points and 9 rebounds a game and I thought Lindsey Keller did an outstanding job guarding her. She shut her out and held her to 2 rebounds, so I was really proud of her.”
“Our coach had a good scout ready for us,” Oklahoma State senior forward Toni Young said. “We had been emphasizing defense a lot. That was our goal, to get down and play in the same stance.”
It came as no surprise to Littell that Young took over the game when the Cowgirls needed a spark. The senior from Del City used her sure hands to pull down rebounds and secure the ball at a time when Oklahoma State struggled with turnovers.
“I thought we turned the ball over too much in the first seven minutes,” Littell said. “We had about six turnovers early and that really kept us from getting off to the start we wanted. We played better in the second half and finished with 19 offensive rebounds.”
“Lately we’ve been starting off pretty fast,” Young said. “I think we’re a quick team. At the beginning we have to realize we can’t go as fast. Once we get in the (half-court offense), we have to tell ourselves to slow down and just run our plays.”
Young lead the Cowgirls with 20 points and 12 rebounds for her second straight double-double — and third overall this season. Liz Donohoe also chipped in 15 points and 14 boards, while Keller added 16 points.
The lead continued to balloon in the second half as Oklahoma State finally settled into a groove. The Cowgirls opened the second half with a 12-3 run thanks in large part to Young and never looked back, expanding the lead to 45 with just over a minute remaining.
“We had about a six minute drought where we couldn’t score, but other than that I was pretty pleased with the way we played,” Littell said. “We’re too good of a team to go into a drought like that, but I’m proud of the way we finished the game.”
While the Cowgirls weren’t able to reach their nation-leading average of 90 points per game, Littell said Thursday’s game against Stephen F. Austin is exactly the kind of game that will gear his team up for Big 12 play.
“We know that there are going to be some games that we’re going to have to grind it out,” Littell said. “The offense and scoring won’t always be there, but defense and rebounding will be there every night. I’d rather win a game 85-40 than 90-60 because those are going to be the types of games we’re going to play in the conference.”
It happened in the blink of an eye.
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
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The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
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Vinita used an 18-point third quarter — highlighted by the sophomore leadership of Carsyn Spurgeon — and converted 21-of-34 free throws to notch a 61-55 win over the Inola Lady Longhorns Saturday night in the Class 4A Area Tournament.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
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A jam-packed, vocal crowd — aided by the control of several Claremore Police officers — witnessed Stilwell’s come-from-behind 57-51 win over Harrah Saturday night in the must-win game of the Class 4A Area Tournament at the Claremore High School Gymnasium.
SOFTBALL: Arkansas cruises past Miss. Valley State
The University of Arkansas softball team completed an undefeated run through the Razorback Invitational Sunday afternoon win with a 13-5 victory over Mississippi Valley State at Bogle Park.
AAC WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: No. 1 UConn routs No. 3 Louisville for title
New league, same result. It's another championship for UConn.
Breanna Stewart scored 20 points and top-ranked Connecticut beat No. 3 Louisville 72-52 on Monday night to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: Sims leads Baylor to championship
Nothing was going to stop Odyssey Sims.
Not her early foul trouble, West Virginia's suffocating defense or the left ankle injury she suffered less than t wo minutes into the Big 12 championship game.
Sims, the Big 12 player of the year, bounced back and scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to help No. 9 Baylor defeat No. 7 West Virginia 74-71 Monday night and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It was Sims' fourth championship in four years.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB: Kansas State fires coach Deb Patterson
Kansas State has fired women's basketball coach Deb Patterson, announcing the move two days after an opening-round loss in the Big 12 tournament.
NCAA MEN'S BB: Florida, Wichita State stay 1-2 in AP poll
Florida, which finished an unbeaten season in the Southeastern Conference, and Wichita State, which completed an undefeated regular season, are the top two teams in the AP college basketball poll for the third straight week.
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