Stillwater News Press

College Sports

March 1, 2014

Cowgirls survive late rally by Kansas State on Senior Day

STILLWATER, Okla. — With Oklahoma State celebrating senior day for Tiffany Bias, Kendra Suttles and Kamri Anderson, Kansas State tried to spoil the moment with a furious second-half comeback.

But the 15th-ranked Cowgirls overcame the late onslaught to clinch a 67-62 victory and solidify at least a tie for third in the Big 12 Conference standings — and a chance at the three seed in next week’s Big 12 Conference Championship in Oklahoma City.

“You can all see why I’m losing hair and it’s going gray, and all that. We’ve had a habit sometimes this year of blowing leads and it happened again tonight,” Cowgirl coach Jim Littell said. “... Proud of the kids that they found a way to come back and win the basketball game.”

Oklahoma State has had one of the premium perimeter defenses in the country all year, but for the second straight game, it nearly cost the Cowgirls at home.

After holding Kansas State to 1 of 10 from outside in the first half, the Wildcats knocked down 6 of 9 (66.7 percent) to push away by four points with three minutes remaining.

“We haven’t guarded like we did early in the season and we’re still trying to find where we get back and have the intensity that we guarded with in November, December and January,” Littell said. “I don’t know if we’ve just got some fatigue going right now or not.”

With OSU unable to slow down Kansas State’s offense, Littell elected to go to the full-court press to slow KSU’s momentum.

The decision was fruitful for the Cowgirls. Oklahoma State got back-to-back turnovers to reclaim the lead — which it would not relinquish over the final two minutes.

“We just had a hunch to put the press on and see what it does,” the Cowgirl coach said. “We weren’t stopping them at the other end, so we figured we might as well change the tempo of the game and some kids made some plays.”

OSU got a collective effort in tying the program’s mark for most conference wins. Redshirt freshman Brittany Atkins came off the bench to contribute 11 points and four rebounds to give the Cowgirls a fourth double-digit scorer — along with Bias (17), Brittney Martin (13) and Liz Donohoe (12).

“It felt real good. I felt like I’ve been in a slump lately,” Atkins said. “I think it was (Friday), Liz came up to me and told me I just needed to stop thinking about it — don’t think, just shoot. ... It was really just my teammates helping me get through this slump.”

Martin finished with 13 rebounds to get her second straight double-double — and her fourth for the year. She was also responsible for the two steals in the full-court press late in the game.

The Cowgirls will have a short turnaround with their season finale Monday at Texas, which has a 7-1 home conference record.

The winner of the contest will earn the three seed in the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.

“Our players need to get rest. I think everybody in the league is doing this quick turnaround,” Littell said. “I just wish we didn’t have to go on the road and do that. I’d like to get (win) No. 12 there, but they’ve been tough at home.”

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