STILLWATER — Jim Littell realizes he isn't on the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
But he believes his Oklahoma State team has officially reserved its spot in the Big Dance following its 64-58 victory over Texas Saturday afternoon at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I believe it does,” the coach said when asked if Saturday's win should get the Cowgirls in the tournament. “We've got a good RPI (41 entering Saturday). We're playing in the No. 1 RPI conference in America. (A conference record of) 8-10 got in last year, and we've got our ninth win already.
“If history holds true on it, nine wins in the No. 1 RPI conference in the country should get you in.”
But getting that ninth conference victory wasn't easy for the Cowgirls.
OSU trailed by five at halftime and 36-27 with 17:17 to play. Littell attributed those early struggles to nerves because the Cowgirls knew the game's tournament implications, a zone defense leading to passive offense and the length of Texas 6-7 center Imani McGee-Stafford and 6-1 forward Nneka Enemkpali inside.
But a layup by Bias that gave OSU a 44-43 lead with eight minutes to play sparked a strong finish.
Kendra Suttles, who finished with a game-high 18 points, hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key, converted on a driving layup and sank two free throws during that span. Then, Bias made the two decisive plays that clinched the game when she hit two foul shots to put OSU up 62-58 with 16 seconds remaining and then came up with a steal and layup to disrupt Texas' final possession.
“I'm kind of mad (because) I should have hit all of them,” said Bias, referring to two free throws she missed in the final two minutes. “But I hit two big ones that just sealed the deal for us for the end of the game. Those are just shots you have to knock down.”
Bias' perimeter defense was also largely responsible for holding Texas' leading scorer, Chassidy Fussell, to just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting (1-of-8 from 3-point distance).
OSU, along with five other Big 12 teams, next faces a quick turnaround with its final regular-season game at Iowa State on Monday night. The Cowgirls throttled the Cyclones 71-42 in Stillwater in January.