Bedlam women's basketball: Cowgirls learn a lesson, take round 2 against Sooners
NORMAN — A little more than a month ago, OSU received a hard lesson.
While the sting of that Bedlam loss in Stillwater might not be fully in the rearview mirror, the Cowgirls took a positive step Tuesday with a 73-69 win over the Sooners at Lloyd Noble Center.
“We just haven’t quite figured out how to finish some games,” OSU coach Jim Littell said. “We’re getting better at it. I thought we did a really good job tonight.”
Patience, Littell said, was the key.
Patience to stick with the game plan. Patience to move the ball around looking for the right spots for Vivian Gray and Natasha Mack to do their damage offensively. Patience to not rush shots in the final few minutes like they did in that Jan. 8 loss in Stillwater.
In that first meeting, the Cowgirls led by 13 with 2:18 to play before the Sooners stormed back to pull off an improbable victory.
It was the first of four Big 12 losses by five points or fewer over the last month and a half.
“We learned from that,” Littell said. “We learned that we have to use clock and time management at the end of the ballgame. We have to get the ball into free-throw shooters’ hands and play off of her (Sooners’ sharpshooter Taylor Robertson) at the end. We did.
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“You learn the hard way and we learned the hard way in Stillwater.”
In an up-and-down season, Gray has been an unquestioned bright spot.
She was fantastic against OU on Tuesday, scoring 24 points in a performance Littell called her best of the season.
“I slowed down. I’ve been focusing on that,” Gray said. “I tend to rush everything. I slowed down today and tried to play at a slower tempo. It’s what Coach tells me all the time.
“I listened to him today.”
Mack had 23 points and 18 rebounds.
On the other side, Sooners star Robertson struggled.
She missed her first six 3-pointers of the game and finished just 2 of 10 from the field — all on 3-pointers.
Without Robertson hitting from outside, OU’s offense looked lost at times.
“I think sometimes we rely too heavily on T-Rob making shots,” OU's Madi Williams said. “That might be one of the reasons we stand so much on offense. And whenever she isn’t hitting shots, we’re all standing and it’s one big ball of nothing.”
Sooners coach Sherri Coale said her team “panicked” when Robertson wasn’t hitting shots.
“We’re so much better than that,” Coale said. “It was disappointing because that’s not how we play in practice every day.”
Littell praised Ja’Mee Asberry’s defense for helping to slow down Robertson.
Coale coached the game without much of a voice.
In the postgame press conference, she spoke at virtually a whisper.
“I don’t know what’s up with it,” Coale said. “Very frustrating tonight because I use my voice for their energy and to convey energy. It was very frustrating but what are you gonna do?”