STILLWATER — When star point guard Tiffany Bias went to the locker room with an injured left ankle during Oklahoma State’s second-round basketball game against Purdue on Monday, it looked like a crushing blow to the Cowgirls’ hopes of advancing to the Sweet 16.
Freshman Roshunda Johnson made sure that wasn’t the case.
Bias left with 14:04 left in the game and didn’t return until the 2:45 mark, leaving Johnson to run the show for much of the second half.
Johnson finished with 16 points, three assists and four steals in OSU’s 73-66 win to help send the Cowgirls (25-8) to the Sweet 16 for only the third time in school history.
OSU plays undefeated Notre Dame at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in South Bend, Ind.
Wednesday, Johnson sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about her growth as a leader and what lies ahead.
Q: A big moment for you the other night, stepping up when Tiffany goes down. How’d it feel?
A: “It felt pretty good. I was prepared for it. We work towards this every day in practice. Tiffany pushes me and tells me what I need to do be a good point guard, so I was pretty prepared and just went out there and did everything I had to do.”
You’ve almost got a full year under your belt now. What have you learned over your first season in college?
“I learned for one, that you have to be in really good shape to play this game. And you have to keep working, you can’t take no plays off as a point guard. You have to step up when times get rough, and when you’re playing a tough team, you have to lead your team. Even when you’re down, you have to pick the team (up) and just be the point guard.”
Being in shape, was that a rude awakening when you first got to OSU?
“Oh, yeah. It was a real rude awakening. I started off good, and I was like, ‘Oh, OK, I got this.’ And then you get into the games and the serious practices and I was like, ‘Oh, no. I have to do another thing and then another thing.’ So I had to push myself further and get in extra work outside of practice.”
So you step onto campus, and in your first year, you’re playing in the Sweet 16. You’re in the heat of the moment, but is that surreal to think about that?
“It’s amazing. I’m blessed, me and my team is blessed, and I would say Oklahoma State has made it to the Sweet 16 before, but we plan on going farther than the Sweet 16. Notre Dame is a great team, and our team is playing really well, so I feel like we have a good chance.”
If you look ahead to being next in a line of point guards that includes Andrea Riley and Tiffany Bias, what’s that mean to you?
“When I first got here, I knew at some point I was gonna have to take the lead, and I knew Tiffany Bias was a senior coming in. I had to learn from her and do stuff outside in order to one day be where she is right now. I’m working on it right now, but it’ll be pretty good.”
What’s going to be the biggest key to beat a strong Notre Dame team?
“We have to stop transition. Be able to put the ball on the floor, be aggressive and play good defense all around for 40 minutes, and I feel like we all just have to talk. If we talk, we should be good.”