By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Twice this season, the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team looked like it had the edge on Texas Tech only to see late leads disappear in a fog of turnovers and offensive rebounds.
Now the Cowgirls (20-9, 9-9 in Big 12) are hoping the third time is the charm as Oklahoma State takes on the Lady Raiders (21-9, 11-7 in Big 12) to open the Big 12 tournament at 11 a.m. Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
“No one wants to get swept,” Oklahoma State guard Tiffany Bias said. “We’re going to come out ready to play. We have a good scout and some things that we’ve been working on so I think we’ll be ready. It’s like they always say, the third time’s the charm.”
Oklahoma State has lost both games this season by a combined 14 points, including a heartbreaking six-point loss in the Cowgirls’ Big 12 opener in Stillwater.
“We played them to single digits twice,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “I thought we played very nervous the first time we played them and the last time I thought we played very tired. We’re going to make every attempt to just relax and play, be well rested and give it our best shot.”
Relaxing against Texas Tech is a little easier said than done. With four experienced guards, the Lady Raiders like to utilize the press and cause turnovers — a big reason Oklahoma State struggled in Lubbock, Texas a week ago.
“We shot 51 percent... so the shooting wasn’t an issue,” Littell said. “The issue was getting enough shots. The turnovers were the issue. We have to take care of the basketball and we have to rebound better. It’s just that simple.
“We’re going to make some adjustments on (the press). It caused us some trouble both times. When they got four quick guards, we have to have some other people step up and handle some responsibility on it. ... We had some unforced errors on our part that were probably the majority of our turnovers.”
Adjusting to the press is one thing. But for Bias, the key will be to slow the game down and not get nervous when the Cowgirls face adversity.
“They switch up the defense a lot, so you just have to read the defense more,” Bias said. “You just have to attack more and don’t be as timid as we were the last time. ... We just have to play basketball. We got away from that a little bit, but we’re getting back on it.”
If there is one positive, the Cowgirls appear to be catching the Lady Raiders at the right time. Texas Tech has dropped two straight — including a loss to Oklahoma in Lubbock.
But just because the Lady Raiders have dropped two straight doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cakewalk for the Cowgirls.
“Sometimes it’s hard to compare because the teams are so different,” Littell said. “It’s hard because K-State is different than us and Oklahoma is different than us. You have two teams that spread the floor a lot and shoot a lot of 3s, and that’s a different take than the way we play so I don’t know if we can take a whole lot out of those two games.”
The film might not help to much, but the losses earlier in the season will.
“We just have to learn to grind it out,” Bias said. “If things get hard, we have to push through it as a team. We all know that now and we’ll be a better team in the tournament.
With a higher NCAA seed likely given to the winner of Saturday’s matchup there will be plenty of eyes on both teams. Only this time, the Cowgirls will be the ones hoping to make Texas Tech crack this time.
“It’s very important. This would be a great win for us, especially for NCAA seeding purposes and I think we’re going to show everyone that we can play.”