Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

March 29, 2014

Orange Prattle: Cowgirls go out as winners

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Oklahoma State women’s basketball team didn’t lose when it faced top seed Notre Dame Saturday on the Fighting Irish’s home court — they simply were outmatched by a program with better players and a greater tradition to build off of.

But what those Irish fans at Purcell Pavilion saw first hand, along with those Cowgirls fans watching on television, was the beginning of Oklahoma State’s own rise to greatness.

As cliche as it is, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Just look at fellow Big 12 Conference powerhouse Baylor.

The Lady Bears have been the Big 12 bullies for the past four years. But it took Baylor several years of fighting and clawing near the top of the league before it broke through in both the conference and the national stage.

The Cowgirls, led by a coach Jim Littell and his coaching staff, are right there.

Since the tragic death of Kurt Budke and assistant coach and Miranda Serna, Littell has built on the foundation laid for by Budke — as was evident with OSU winning the Women’s NIT the same season of the plane crash. Oklahoma State matched the program mark for wins in a conference season this year. And Saturday’s appearance was just the program’s third, but by far its most impressive.

The Fighting Irish had several chances to blow out the Cowgirls as they had done in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament — a 93-42 blowout of Robert Morris and an 84-67 victory over Arizona State. In fact, the 72 points scored by OSU against ND was the most given up in seven games — dating back to a 100-75 rout of top-15 North Carolina.

The Cowgirls just happen to run into a buzz-saw with an unbeaten Notre Dame squad that has its eye on a date with fellow unbeaten Connecticut in the NCAA championship game.

The loss brought an end to the career of one of the best Cowgirls of all time in Tiffany Bias. But her impact will be felt for years to come.

She will been known as the catalyst that got the Cowgirls into the Sweet 16 for just the third time, and create an atmosphere of success within a program that has overcome more than any college program in the country has ever had to handle.

There is pride to be taken from what the Lady Pokes accomplished Saturday, and this season as a whole.

But it’s just the beginning.

Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at jelmquist@stwnewspress.com.

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