STILLWATER — Searching for a motivational tool to help his team to regain its toughness, Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell contemplated using the Eddie Sutton model of whipping out football helmets and shoulder pads during practice last week.
He couldn't find any. Instead, he rolled a treadmill out onto the Gallagher-Iba Arena floor, with a run on the machine serving as punishment for a lazy defensive possession or failure to secure a rebound.
That, presumably, got the Cowgirls' attention. It absolutely yielded a dominant Bedlam result, as 12th-ranked OSU held every Oklahoma starter under double figures and blasted the Sooners on the boards in a 73-57 victory Sunday afternoon in Stillwater.
“We wanted to get back to playing defense the way we have. We wanted to get back rebounding,” Littell said. “We felt like we needed to help the kids get refocused a little bit.
“They took (the treadmill approach) very well, were very receptive to being coached and I think it paid off.”
OSU (20-4, 9-4 Big 12) had generally thrived in those two areas all season, entering Sunday ranking in the top 20 in the nation in scoring defense (20th, 57.4 points allowed per game), field-goal percentage defense (19th, 35.6 percent) and 3-point field-goal percentage defense (first, 23.6 percent) and 31st nationally in rebounding margin (plus-7.4). But in the Cowgirls' last three games, they had allowed 81 points in a loss to the Sooners in Norman, 74 in a narrow home win against Kansas and 81 in a blowout defeat at Baylor.
Sunday, though, the Cowgirls stifled the Sooners.
OSU held a 48-31 rebounding edge, with 17 of those boards coming on the offensive end. The Sooners (15-11, 6-7) shot 33.3 percent overall and 26.7 percent in the second half, where the Cowgirls held a lead as large as 20 points.
The Cowgirls often prevented OU post Nicole Griffin — who notched a double-double against OSU two weeks ago — from putting the ball on the floor in the paint. After allowing Sharane Campbell to score 28 points in Norman, OSU smartly guarded her dribble-drive attempts to hold her to six points and five turnovers. On the perimeter, Tiffany Bias largely denied clean looks at the basket for OU leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg, who finished with eight points on 3-of-10 shooting and left the game in the second half with an apparent head injury after running into a hard screen set by Kendra Suttles.