STILLWATER — Oklahoma State had built a double-digit lead, then blown it. Kansas State seemingly hit 3-pointer after 3-pointer and had snagged a four-point lead with less than three minutes to go.
So Cowgirl coach Jim Littell decided to put on the full-court press. His confidence it would work didn’t stem from his team frequently practicing it. The Cowgirls don’t. He just had a hunch.
A correct hunch, as the press certainly provided the desired spark, yielding six quick points to push the score in OSU’s favor for good in a 67-62 win Saturday afternoon at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“We just weren’t stopping them at the other end,” Littell said. “We were drowning on the other end. So I thought we’d need to try something else, and it worked out.
“It could have been where (K-State) kicked it out, hit a 3 in the corner and you look stupid doing it, but it worked out for us. I think it changed the tempo of the game.”
The win for the No. 15 Cowgirls (22-6, 11-6 Big 12) sets up a huge contest at Texas on Monday, which will be for the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. That seed will likely be the difference between playing Baylor and West Virginia in the semifinals.
OSU first went to the press following a pair of Tiffany Bias free throws that cut K-State’s lead to 57-55 with 2:41 to play. Brittney Martin swiped the inbounds pass and dished the ball to Brittany Atkins for the game-tying layup. Martin then stole the ensuing inbounds pass again, was fouled on a layup attempt and made both free throws to take a two-point lead.
That’s 12 points in six seconds.
K-State coach Deb Patterson, recognizing her squad was clearly flustered, called a timeout. But it was too late; the tide had already shifted, both on the scoreboard and emotionally.
“That was the spark that got the momentum changing to our way,” Bias said. “I think if we didn’t do that, it would have been a tough game for us at the end.