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OSU Sports

March 28, 2014

Cowgirls face unbeaten Notre Dame in Sweet 16

STILLWATER, Okla. — Last season, the NCAA Tournament was a new experience for most of the Oklahoma State Cowgirls. This season, Oklahoma State is relishing the opportunity to take on the undefeated Notre Dame Lady Irish at 1 p.m. Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

“It’s a great feeling,” sophomore guard Brittney Martin said. “I’m excited that we’ve gotten this far. … It’s always exciting to get to play someone that is No. 1 or No. 2 in the country.”

The Cowgirls (25-8) upset Purdue 73-66 on its home floor in the second round on Monday. A big reason why was Martin, who scored 20 points and grabbed 20 rebounds — three shy of the NCAA Tournament single-game record.

“I came out on a different level,” Martin said. “I just wanted to push past our consistency — lose-win streak. I just wanted to win. I had different mentality than I had all year.”

Martin said playing in the NCAA Tournament last season helped her be more comfortable this season.

“The tournament was crazy-scary last year because I was new to it,” Martin said. “I was just getting used to Big 12 players than moved on to players we haven’t seen.”

Also, coming up big for the Cowgirls was freshman guard Roshunda Johnson. Against Purdue, Johnson scored 16 points and recorded three assists, while playing a huge chunk of minutes in the second half when starting point guard Tiffany Bias went down with an ankle injury. Johnson said she was nervous when Bias went down but felt prepared.

“I thought she was out and it really kind of scared me,” Johnson said. “I felt like I’m prepared for this and (Bias) got me prepared for this. I knew I had certain things I had to do as the point guard.”

Bias said her understudy did a great job, which is what she expected Johnson to do.

“She did an unbelievable job. That's what a point guard should do. She stepped up as a freshman and did a great job. I'm proud of her. I've been coaching her the whole way.”

Coach Jim Littell said Martin and Johnson showed a lot of maturity in the second round game.

“Brittney (Martin) was phenomenal the other night. You get 20 and 20 – somebody told me that she was three rebounds away from the NCAA Tournament record of 23. For a young lady who his 5’11”, 6-foot to go in and get 20 rebounds is remarkable. I’ve coached 36 years, and I don’t know if I’ve had many kids go get 20-20 on a given night. Ro (Johnson) stepped up, especially when Tiff got hurt, and did a great job. To play in that environment and have 16 points and one turnover is pretty impressive for a freshman.”

Littell said facing the second overall No. 1 seed will be the biggest challenge his team has faced all season — especially since the Cowgirls have to play on Notre Dame’s home court.

“They’re just — by watching the film —it’s probably one of the most efficient teams I’ve ever seen,” Littell said. “When I’m talking about efficient, they understand the game, they know how to play, they play well with each other, they have great balance between inside outside game, they understand change in defenses. It’s just a really finely tuned machine that really understands how to play the game.”

Junior center LaShawn Jones said she is looking forward to the challenge — including matching up with Notre Dame’s post player — Natalie Achonwa, who scored 25 points in the Fighting Irish second round victory.

“I think it’s going to be a way better matchup than what Florida Gulf Coast was,” Jones said. “They got big people on the floor that I can get physical with, myself. I think it’s going to be an OK matchup.”

As far as her status for Saturday’s game, Bias left no doubt.

“(The ankle) is fine,” Bias said. “I haven’t missed a game, so I will be there on Saturday.”

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