CNHI News Services
After playing six straight contests at home, the No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowgirls hit the road, taking on the Texas-Arlington Lady Mavericks at 2 p.m. today.
“We need to maximize every opportunity we have to play because we are only three games from conference play,” Cowgirl coach John Littell said. “All these games are important for us to fine tune some things and make sure we are ready to play in Big 12. We needed to get away from the home court a little bit and make sure we know how to play on the road.”
Oklahoma State starts conference play Jan. 2 against Texas Tech at home and then visits Baylor on Jan. 6. Senior post Lindsey Keller said she’s excited about getting to play on the road.
“Our team is ready for the challenge,” Keller said. “We are ready for little bit tougher competition, tougher places to play and more difficult situations. Step up the bar a little bit and take more progressive steps to where we want to be.”
The Cowgirls (8-0) haven’t played away from Gallagher-Iba Arena since Nov. 13 when they played at Missouri State. Oklahoma State won 74-71 but struggled shooting 40 percent and commiting 18 turnovers. Sophomore Liz Donohoe said the team needs to play better this time.
“I don’t think we came out ready to play against Missouri State,” Donohoe said. “We played kind of timid. This game, we’ve played a lot more games and we are ready. We are playing well together. We are working on things in practice.”
The Lady Mavericks (2-7) are coming off a 59-50 victory at North Texas Tuesday, ending a three-game losing streak. UT-Arlington hasn’t won a regular season game at home. Keller said the Cowgirls can’t underestimate them.
“You have to walk into every game with the mindset that you are going to respect every team and play to your level,” Keller said. “ ... You got a big target on your back going in there. You are a ranked team, a Big 12 team. They are going to have a whole another intensity level that we have to match.”
Littell said his team needs to be ready for UTA’s best.
“There’s teams we play that this is a championship game for them,” Littell said. “They feel they can prove that they have players that should have played in the Big 12. So there’s a lot of teams we play that have a lot of purpose and motivation.”
During the Cowgirls’ six-game homestand they averaged 91 points while only giving up 44 per game. Oklahoma State only allowed one opponent to score more than 50 and that happened against Texas State on Nov. 28.
“Our offense is pretty good the way it is,” Keller said. “Our flow, we need to work on that — just getting into a consistent offensive base. We have really been working on our defense making sure it’s ready for Big 12.”
Donohoe said the team has a lot of scorers.
“It definitely helps,” Donohoe said. “We just have to have everyone healthy and ready to go.”
Littell said they have worked a lot on defense.
“We recognize that was something we needed to work on,” Littell said. “We spent a lot of time on focusing on our defensive end.”
After Saturday’s game, the Cowgirls travel to San Diego for the Surf N’ Slam Classic.