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OSU women's basketball: Natasha Mack will be the face of the offense with Vivian Gray gone

Oklahoma State's Natasha Mack (4)averaged 17.6 points a year ago and is the Cowgirls' top returning scorer this season. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma State's Natasha Mack (4)averaged 17.6 points a year ago and is the Cowgirls' top returning scorer this season. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State women’s basketball team plans to open its season one week from Sunday with a visit from Oral Roberts.

The Cowgirls currently have paused team activities while three members of the squad are quarantined with COVID-19. Additionally, OSU canceled its originally scheduled season opener on Wednesday at Little Rock.

Here are three things to watch in the Cowgirls’ upcoming season:

1. Mack Attack

Natasha Mack, the Cowgirls’ 6-foot-4 forward averaged 17.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last season, earning Big 12 newcomer of the year honors as a junior-college transfer. She also blocked 96 shots in 27 games (3.6 per game) to set the OSU single-season record.

As she embarks on her senior season, Mack will have even more on her shoulders, because of the Cowgirls’ limited perimeter experience. Mack will be asked to power the Cowgirl offense from the inside out. Mack is also a force on the glass, and can boost the offense with putbacks.

Coach Jim Littell says one of the biggest focal points for Mack will be her ability to work out of double-teams that are surely coming her way.

2. Replacing Gray

The loss of guard Vivian Gray, last year’s leading scorer at 19.3 points per game, leaves a hole that will be hard to fill. Gray transferred to Texas Tech for her senior season, along with fellow Cowgirl guard Bryn Gerlich. Both joined a Red Raider squad that is now being coached by Gerlich’s mother, Krista Gerlich.

OSU point guard Ja’Mee Asberry enters her junior season as the primary ball-handler, and she’ll be asked to score more often this season as well. She averaged 6.8 points and 3.1 assists per game last season.

Sophomore Lauren Fields made 17 starts last season and can be another ball-handling option on the perimeter.

The Cowgirls will need perimeter scoring from some newcomers like freshman Lexy Keys, who scored 1,806 points in her high school career at Sequoyah Tahlequah.

Keys was part of a strong in-state recruiting haul for the Cowgirls that also included Taylen Collins from Muldrow — a top-100 player in the class according to ESPN’s HoopGurlz rankings — and Ruthie Udoumoh of Victory Christian in Tulsa.

Littell says his team has been working on its shooting during the preseason more than any team he’s ever had, hoping to improve on last year’s percentages. The Cowgirls shot 38.8 percent from the floor and 25.4 percent from 3-point range as a team last season.

“We feel like we’ve got other people who can step up and make shots and bring some balance to our offense,” Littell said. “Hopefully we’ll have three or four kids in double-figures every night.”

3. Size will be key

At 6-4, Mack isn’t alone in the frontcourt. OSU has three players who are 6-3 or taller. That includes center Kassidy DeLapp, who has been a key contributor over the last two seasons.

The Cowgirls also brought in 6-5 forward Brittany Reeves, a Georgia native who was a junior-college All-American last season. She averaged 19.5 points and 15.3 rebounds per game at Independence (Kansas) Community College.

OSU women’s basketball schedule

Nov. 29: vs. Oral Roberts

Dec. 2: vs. Southern

Dec. 5: vs. Alabama

Dec. 7: vs. SMU

Dec. 13: vs. Tulsa

Dec. 15: at OU

Dec. 18: vs. West Virginia

Dec. 22: at North Texas

Jan. 2: vs. Texas Tech

Jan. 6: at TCU

Jan. 9: vs. Kansas

Jan. 13: at Iowa State

Jan. 17: at Kansas State

Jan. 20: vs. Baylor

Jan. 23: at West Virginia

Jan. 27: vs. Texas

Jan. 30: at Kansas

Feb. 3: vs. TCU

Feb. 6: vs. OU

Feb. 10: at Texas

Feb. 13: at Texas Tech

Feb. 17: vs. Kansas State

Feb. 20: vs. Iowa State

Feb. 24 at Baylor

Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›