STILLWATER — Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell quickly turned to the positives of his team's performance against No. 1 and defending national champion Baylor.
The No. 19 Cowgirls grabbed 22 offensive rebounds against a team with 6-8 Brittney Griner in the post. They totaled 27 second-chance points. A higher intensity on the defensive end helped force 20 Baylor turnovers.
But OSU simply didn't hit enough shots to take advantage of some early Baylor miscues, and the Lady Bears pulled away to an 81-62 victory Saturday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“We missed point-blank shots right at the rim,” Littell said. “If you're going to compete against these people, you not only gotta hit open shots, you gotta hit some tough shots …
“They speed you up and their length causes problems, but that's what it takes to beat them is to hit tough shots. But you darn sure gotta hit the point-blank shots against them.”
Because of those forced turnovers and offensive rebounds, the Cowgirls (15-5, 4-5 Big 12) took 22 more shots than Baylor (20-1, 10-0) but made just 31.6 percent of their attempts. Leading scorer Toni Young particularly struggled, making just six of her 24 shots from the floor.
Those types of difficulties are common against Griner, who not only can affect the player she's guarding with her size and wing span, but the entire offense simply because of her presence in the post.
But OSU had problems hitting open looks, as well. On a possession in the first half that could have tied the game at 25, Lindsey Keller missed two uncontested layups. Baylor then scored 12 of the final 15 points of the half to take a 37-26 lead into the locker room.
A 21-point lead for Baylor early in the second half dwindled back to 11 on a layup by Young with 10:43 to play, but the Lady Bears responded with a mini 6-0 spurt that essentially put the game away.
Griner finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven assists, demonstrating both her growth during her four years in Waco and the immense talent surrounding her on the nation's top team.
OSU point guard Tiffany Bias finished with 13 points and six assists, which put her over both the 1,000-point and 500-assist total for her career.
The game marked the midway point of the conference season for OSU, an inconsistent road so far for a team that climbed as high as 12th in The Associated Press poll but will likely be unranked come Monday after dropping two consecutive contests.
The good news for the Cowgirls? The schedule sets up more favorably for the final nine regular-season games. OSU is finished with Baylor, while its first game against TCU, which is winless in conference play, comes Tuesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“We saw glimpses of a team that we could be and that we should be,” Bias said of the first half of Big 12 play. “And I saw a team where we didn't finish as we should have. We expect a lot more of ourselves, so the games that we should have lost or let up the lead, that just shows a lot of learning experiences …
“But for the second half of the season, I think we'll look back on that and we'll make it better.”
Perhaps even better news? Barring a matchup in the Big 12 Tournament, OSU never has to face Griner again.
“Yeah, I'm glad it's over,” Littell said with a chuckle. “But I like playing good teams and competing against the best in the country, and I thought we did a lot of good things against them (Saturday night).”