Kristin Hernandez didn’t need much time to prove she could be a valuable asset for Oklahoma State.

During the Cowgirls’ season opener against Air Force, she recorded a team-high 25 points — which marked the highest output by a freshman since Jennifer Crow posted 25 against Nicholls State in 1996. Hernandez’s total was also the fourth-highest by an OSU player in a season opener.

She also scored double digits for the first time in Big 12 play Tuesday as the 17th-ranked Cowgirls knocked off No. 5 Baylor, 77-67, at home. Hernandez came off the bench and posted 14 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes.

“For a freshman to step up like she did, that is just huge,” said OSU senior Maria Cordero. “I think it has to do a lot with practice and who we battle against. She’s battling against Danielle Green every single day at practice and I think that is making her a better player.”

Hernandez added, “Right when Coach (Kurt Budke) called my name, I felt a butterfly in my stomach. I felt like I needed to go in, get the butterfly out, and I felt warmed up as soon as I got a rebound. I get the ball in my hand and I feel like I am warmed up.”

The Dallas native has been a solid contributor throughout the season for O-State (18-3, 6-2), which visits Nebraska at 1:15 p.m. today in a contest that will be televised on ESPN2 (Suddenlink 32). Hernandez is averaging 15.3 minutes, 7.4 points and three rebounds.

“She’s coming around now,” Budke said. “She’s still learning and she’s still maturing, but you saw (Tuesday) her potential to really be a great player at Oklahoma State. ... Kristin was really big for us (against the Lady Bears).”

Hernandez was one of five Cowgirls who scored in double figures during the victory against Baylor.

Sophomore Andrea Riley, the Big 12’s leading scorer, was held to 15 points on 5-of-23 shooting (21.8 percent), but Hernandez stepped up along with Green (16 points), Cordero (14) and junior Shaunté Smith (10).

Budke said OSU will need that kind of balanced offense to stay in the hunt for the program’s first conference championship.

“We went back (in practice last week) and worked on distributing the basketball, running the floor just a little bit better and I think the girls have really bought in,” the third-year boss added. “When we value the basketball and take care of it, I think we have enough scorers to have four or five in double figures.”

Scouting NU

The Huskers (17-6, 6-3) are coming off Wednesday’s 80-71 win against Colorado in Boulder. Junior Kelsey Griffin is leading NU with 13.9 points per outing, while senior Danielle Page is adding 12.3 points and a team-best 6.6 rebounds.

The Huskers, who are 11-1 at home this season, hold a 30-24 advantage in the all-time series, but O-State earned a 63-60 victory a year ago in Stillwater. The Cowgirls haven’t recorded a win in Lincoln since 2002.

Think Pink

Today’s contest will be part of ESPN’s “February Frenzy,” which will provide coverage of eight women’s games throughout the day. The event will be in conjunction with “Think Pink,” which the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association began in 2007 as an initiative to raise cancer awareness.

For more information or to make a donation to the WBCA’s cancer fund, call 1-800-4JimmyV or visit www.jimmyv.org.

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