By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Over the last month, there have been many sleepless nights for the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team. Thoughts of what could have been if the Cowgirls had not fallen in overtime to Kansas State at Manhattan, Kan., often haunt the dreams of players and coaches alike.
Now the Cowgirls (17-6, 6-6 in Big 12) are chasing a different dream — the dream of making it to the NCAA Tournament. And a win over Kansas State (13-11, 4-8 in Big 12) Saturday in Gallagher-Iba Arena would go a long way in keeping that dream alive.
“It’s huge for us,” Oklahoma State junior point guard Tiffany Bias said. “This is one that we really need to get. I think that we are well prepared and we’ll get the win.
“It is (a statement game for us), especially since we didn’t come out as well when we went to Manhattan. I think this is a big game for us to show that we can turn it around. We definitely need a split with them and I think that we’ll see a different team than they saw in Manhattan.”
Getting a win over the Wildcats is a little easier said than done. Oklahoma State hasn’t beat Kansas State since Jan. 16, 2010, a streak Bias and company hope to stop right there.
“It’s crucial that you win your home games,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “We lost one up there that we felt like we had an opportunity to win and it got away from us. It’s very important that we build upon the win at West Virginia and pick up our second straight win.”
The win over West Virginia kept Oklahoma State’s NCAA hopes alive, but a win over Kansas State might be just the boost the Cowgirls need as they head into the final stretch of the conference season.
“It gives us the opportunity to keep the dream alive of going to the NCAA Tournament,” Littell said. “We picked up our sixth win and we need to stay focused and make sure we’re playing hard. We need to put back-to-back games together and just try to progress toward the tournament.”
To make that progression, the Cowgirls will have to stop Brittany Chambers. The senior guard is second in the Big 12 with 19.6 points per game and scored 26 points in the Wildcats’ 76-70 victory earlier this season.
“We have to have an awareness of where the shooters are,” Littell said. “Always knowing where Chambers is at is a key to the game. When she scores 25 to 35, they win. When she’s in the 12 to 15 range, they have trouble finding enough points to win. It’s important that we do a nice job on Chambers and we didn’t at K-State.”
“She’s a great player and great shooter,” Bias said. “We just have to run her off the 3s and try to make her put the ball on the ground more than having her shoot 3s.”
It’s been a bit of a rocky season for the Cowgirls — filled with many ups and downs. But a win over Kansas State might be just what the Cowgirls need to level themselves out before the conference tournament.
“This will be a gut-check for us,” Bias said. “We need to execute well and this should be a good turnaround for us. It’s really about being focused and determined. We really sat down and figured out our goals. We’re all as one and one team, and we’re going to get there as a team.”