Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Jim Littell said he got the message from his team's well-wishers after Saturday's 61-60 overtime cliffhanger over Florida Gulf Coast in West Lafayette, Ind.
“I've got about 50 texts on my phone saying ‘survive and advance,’” Littell said in Saturday's postgame news conference. “That's exactly what we did tonight.”
After initially trailing by double-digits early, Florida Gulf Coast turned the tables and led by as many as 10 in the second half before the Cowgirls escaped with the victory. Littell did not hesitate to give kudos to the Eagles and coach Karl Smesko.
“That guy can coach with anybody in the country,” Littell said of Smesko. “He had his team very well prepared. We knew going into the game that it was a very tough guard for us, and the fact that they spread you out and drive so much, they shoot so many 3s. We may have been a little too locked in on guarding the 3s, and we really got beat a lot off the dribble-drive. I'm just happy right now that we advanced.”
BIAS ONLY NEEDED ONE TO MAKE AN IMPACT
Oklahoma State's leading scorer, Tiffany Bias, made only one basket, but that one, off of a Liz Donohoe steal with less than a minute remaining in overtime, made all the difference in the world, as it proved to be the winning score. Bias went 4 of 6 from the free-throw line to end the game with six points.
She went 1 of 9 from the field and turned the ball over eight times, most of those trying to sneak a pass into the paint against FGCU's bunched-up defensive effort in the lane.
“Sometimes you have those games (and) you can't do anything about it,” said Bias, who entered the contest averaging 14.2 points a game. “You have to keep pushing for your team, and eight turnovers are bad for a point guard. I was playing too fast, and I should have played more under control, but we won and we're moving to the next game. I think it's one of the things you can't dwell on and you have to look to the next one.”
Littell couldn't help but get a playful jab in on his star player during the postgame press conference when a reporter tried to get Bias to remember the circumstances around her game-winning basket.
“You only made one,” Littell told Bias, as both laughed it off.
JOHNSON STEPS UP AT CRUCIAL TIMES
It seemed that Florida Gulf Coast was just one big basket from breaking it open, but each time, freshman guard Roshunda Johnson had the answer for the Cowgirls. Johnson came off the bench and scored 11 points to lead Oklahoma State, but it was the timing that made her more valuable.