After Vivian Gray spent most of last year being the sole offensive output, help is here for the new season.
Oklahoma State used physical defense and solid ball movement to beat Idaho 62-47 in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Tuesday night.
The Cowgirls (1-0) had four scorers with eight of more points in the season opener, with three of those players being new to the roster.
Transfer forward Natasha Mack led OSU with 11 points and 14 rebounds, earning it a double-double in her debut. Mack showed why she was one of the highest rated players in the junior college ranks last year.
“It felt amazing like just being out there with my team,” Mack said. “First double-double in my first official game (with OSU), it’s a big move for me.”
As for Gray, OSU’s leading scorer from a year ago, things weren’t so easy. The junior mustered 10 points, shooting just 3 of 15 from the field.
OSU coach Jim Littell said it was nice to see a lot of new faces helping out Gray.
“We’ve always wanted to have a team that has four or five people in double figures,” Littell said. “Viv kinda had a tough game by Viv’s standards, and she had a lot of good looks and the ball didn’t go in the hole.”
Neither the Cowgirls nor the Vandals could find much offense in the first quarter, but OSU was able to get a few threes from Gray, Ja’Mee Asberry and Sara Rodrigues to take a 13-9 lead after the first frame.
OSU started to separate itself in the second quarter, as the Cowgirls outscored Idaho 16-6. A full-court press and overwhelming physicality from OSU’s defense proved to be too much for the Vandals, a theme that carried through the night. Idaho surrendered 14 turnovers and had seven of its shots blocked.
“We want to be a team that bases everything around their defense with creating turnovers and deflections,” Littell said. “I think we had over 35 deflections today.”
The Cowgirls led by 14 at the half and extended their lead to 22 after a solid outing in the third quarter.
Just when OSU seemed it had everything under control, the Vandals (0-1) made one last move. Idaho tightened up on defense and went on a run with a couple of 3-pointers and layups to cut the OSU lead to nine with just under two minutes left.
Despite the late surge, the Cowgirls held on to win their 14th-consecutive home opener.
The new-look Cowgirls showed some promising signs, especially with the diversity of scorers.
Littell said this game was important for his team’s chemistry, something he hopes will continue improving the rest of the way.
“I’ve got confidence in these kids and believe with their work ethic and the way they come to play every day that we’re going to get better,” Littell said. “That’s the goal. To get better every day we come into the gym.”