The No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowgirls have had no problem scoring, as they were averaging 88 points per game and their starters near double figures. Wednesday night against the Texas Tech Lady Raiders, the Cowgirls shot below 40 percent and only had two players in double figures in a 64-59 loss at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“Give Texas Tech a lot credit for being down 17-3 and keeping composure, hanging in there and playing,” coach Jim Littell said. “It’s a disappointing loss for us. Every game you play at home is very crucial. When we got a lead early, I thought we missed a lot of open shots that we normally hit.”
Oklahoma State shot 38 percent. Though, the Cowgirls struggled shooting, they got off to a fast start, taking an 18-3 lead. Point guard Tiffany Bias was key to Oklahoma State’s success as she scored 15 points in the first half, twice her average. The junior point guard finished with a career-high of 27 points but wished her team would have won.
“It’s not a great game to me,” Bias said. “I would rather have the whole team balance it out. I think we made a lot of little mistakes that we don’t usually make. It kind of hurt us. Losing the first Big 12 game isn’t good especially at home.”
The Lady Raiders opened the game with 5 missed shots and five turnovers. Things turned around for Tech as Oklahoma State started racking up fouls. Seniors Toni Young and Lindsey Keller had to sit most of the first with two fouls. Young, who averages 18.5 points per game only had 2 points in the first half and finished the game with 12. With less experienced ballhanders, OSU struggled. The Lady Raiders took advantage with a 20-3 scoring run, taking a 23-21 lead. Littell said it hurt having Young on the bench.
“It’s our leading scorer, leading rebounder and someone explosive inside,” Littell said. “She leads us in offensive rebounds as well. Toni has got to be on the floor for us. We are not deep enough or talented enough to cover that. I don’t think many teams are (deep or talented enough) when they lose their top post player.”
Tech coach Kristy Curry said she wanted her team to be disruptive on defense and make it difficult for OSU to get shots.
“I thought we were able to keep them off balance a little bit,” Curry said. “When (Young) did catch, we made it difficult for her and tried to run a second person at her. There’s a bunch more than her. Bias at halftime alone was hurting us. They are phyiscal on the boards. One of the telling stats was we held them to 12 offensive boards and we balanced it out with nine.”
Tech held the Cowgirls top scorers in check. Sophomore Liz Donohoe who averages 17.5 points per game was held to 8 points. Keller who averages just under 10 was held to 5 points. Freshman Brittney Martin only scored 4 points, about half her average of 9.2. Littell said his team didn’t execute well and took some of the responsibility.
“I look back and wish I would have done a lot of things different as far as calling sets and getting us into things offensively,” Littell said. “I take some responsibility for this. We had some kids get open looks that they normally hit. We didn’t hit it tonight. (Tech) stepped up made plays and hit shots.”
The key to Tech’s success was its outside shooting as it went 5-for-8 in 3-pointers. Chynna Brown and Monique Smalls each hit a 3-pointer toward the end of the first half, giving the Lady Raiders a 32-27 halftime lead.
Oklahoma State shot 30.8 percent in the first half and trailed at halftime for the first time since playing at Missouri State in November.
The Lady Raiders maintained their lead most of the second half, getting up by as many as nine. The Cowgirls rallied. Bias hit a 3-pointer to cut Tech’s lead to 46-43. After an offensive foul was called on the Lady Raiders’ Casey Morris, OSU cut the lead to one. Bias tied the game at 47. Keller gave Oklahoma State its first lead of the second half at the free throw line.
The lead changed hands several times. In the final minute, momentum went Texas Tech’s way. With the score tied at 57, Young fouled out for the Cowgirls. Brown hit a 3-pointer in the corner to give the Lady Raiders a 60-57 lead with 43.9 seconds left. Smalls stole the ball from Bias and was fouled. The point guard took advantage sinking both free throws.
The loss snapped a 17-game winning streak for the Cowgirls, which was the longest active in the nation. The University of Connecticut now owns it with 12. Oklahoma State travels to Baylor, Sunday. Littell said it hurts losing at home but his team needs to get over it.
“This league is a journey,” Littell said. “It is not a sprint. It doesn’t get easier. We go down to Baylor and play the best team in the country. What matters now is we got to get a road game because we let this home game escape.”