CNHI News Service
Liz Donohoe had been averaging 18 points a game for the Oklahoma State University women’s basketball team. She nearly had that by halftime as the Cowgirls defeated Texas Southern 91-49 Saturday in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Cowgirls (6-0) survived a barrage of six 3-pointers from Texas Southern (1-6) during the first half before holding the Lady Tigers to 26.1 percent from the field to remain undefeated.
“That was a shocker,” Oklahoma State senior Lindsey Keller said. “I really wasn’t expecting them to shoot so well but you have to realize that when a team comes in here, they’re wanting to win too — especially against a ranked team. They’re going to be pulling out all kinds of stops, and we have to increase our intensity and realize it doesn’t matter who you play but how you play. We need to learn how to start off the game right.”
Oklahoma State got off to a little bit of a slow start as Texas Southern went on a 11-2 run to take a 13-8 lead three minutes into the game before Lindsey Keller’s 4-point play ignited the Cowgirls’ offense. Keller finished with a career-high 18 points, along with 8 rebounds.
“It did get us going, but I’m not happy that we were in that spot to start out with,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “It was our own fault for being in that spot. Lindsey had a nice game today. I know she wasn’t very happy with the way she played in the last ball game, getting in foul trouble and only playing 11 minutes.”
Donohoe continued momentum in favor of the Cowgirls by knocking down all three of her 3-pointers in a span of two minutes as Oklahoma State took the lead for good with 9:12 left before halftime. Donohoe finished with 18 points after scoring 15 in the first half as the Cowgirls took a 45-30 lead into the locker room.
“I thought Liz played well,” Littell said. “Her numbers are good. We held her at the end of the game. She’s been having a little bit of a nagging injury and there was no need to have her in the game at that point. But for 25 minutes, having 18 is a nice night and we just have to get her healthy.”
After struggling on defense throughout the first half, Oklahoma State stifled the Texas Southern offense in the second half. The Lady Tigers made six shots in the second half and turned the ball over 10 times.
“We needed to pick up our defense in the first half and that’s what they told us at halftime in our little meeting,” said Oklahoma State freshman Brittney Martin, who finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds. “We just went out and they said, ‘Pick up our defense,’ and we knew we needed to. I think we just came out and thought defense first.”
Along with the defensive effort, the Cowgirls also got a spark from sophomore Morgan Toben. The New Mexico transfer’s 3-pointer with 16:07 left in the second half sparked Oklahoma State to a 15-0 run, essentially putting the game out of reach.
“We were locked in,” Littell said. “There was some focus and we shared the basketball. Out of our 29 assists, probably a huge amount of the came from the 15-minute mark to the 5-minute mark in the second half. We started making the extra pass. We just started playing harder and respecting the game more in the second half. We’ve got a group that can be pretty good if we lock in and do the right things and continue to get better. We have a lot of people that can score and can score in different ways. But that was the difference, it was just a matter of focused and being locked in.”
The Cowgirls may have staged off an early barrage from Texas Southern in the first half, but Littell said that Saturday’s game will be used as a teaching lesson as the Cowgirls inch closer to Big 12 play, which starts in one month.
“It’s going to get us in trouble if we don’t start games better,” Littell said. “... The Big 12 is about playing for 40 minutes and valuing every possession, and we’re not right there where we need to be right now. We didn’t defend that way in the first half. I told our team it’s about holding yourself to a high standard and having high expectations of yourself.”
Nick Snow is a sports reporter for the Stillwater NewsPress.