STILLWATER — It was a reserved celebration. Following No. 22 Oklahoma State's 76-59 dismantling of TCU at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Tuesday night, there was a shared understanding of where these two programs stood.
The Cowgirls sit comfortably in the Top 25 and should be in the thick of NCAA Tournament consideration come March, despite entering the game off back-to-back losses.
TCU has yet to win a conference game this season. The Frogs showed why on Tuesday.
After trailing 6-0 early, the Cowgirls (16-5, 5-5) surged on a 30-4 run to put the game out of reach. OSU junior guard Tiffany Bias' 13 first-half points fueled OSU's 44-24 lead at the break. TCU cut the deficit to 13 late in the second half, but the Cowgirls held off the surge.
“A nice win, I was very pleased with our group,” OSU coach Jim Littell said. “We needed to get back on track. I thought we shared the ball extremely well and passed against their zone defense very well. … Our players did an excellent job of making the extra pass and finding someone open. Our ball movement was really, really good tonight.”
Littell took the victory as just another steppingstone toward the Cowgirls' pursuit of postseason play, but he can relate to the Lady Horned Frogs (7-14, 0-10). In his first year at OSU as an assistant coach in 2005-06, the Cowgirls went 6-22. They failed to win a single conference game.
“It's very difficult, but (TCU's) talent level is better than when we came in when we were 0-16 that first year,” Littell said. “They've got some nice players in their group, and they're young.”
For the TCU athletic department, the switch to the Big 12 was football-fueled from the start. Meanwhile, the Lady Horned Frogs' basketball team was far from a Mountain West Conference basement dweller. Before last season, they had made 11 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. But still, the leap from the Mountain West to the Big 12 would be steep.
As predicted, TCU has had a rough go of the transition — both the men's and women's teams have yet to win a conference game (0-18).
“They've got some things to build on,” Littell said. “They're going to win some games before this thing's over.”
Littell is glad to have the foundation established in Stillwater as a jumping point for this season. If his team finds consistency on the back end of an extremely difficult conference schedule, the Cowgirls should be serious contenders for postseason play.
If Tuesday's victory serves as a premonition, OSU should be in good shape moving forward. Cowgirl forward Toni Young finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks as OSU outscored TCU 40-14 in the paint. Bias finished her night with a team-high 19 points.
“TCU came out hot, and we had to respond,” Bias said. “We just responded and hit shots down the road … I think we prepared well and were just ready to play.”
It doesn't get easier from here for the Cowgirls. They travel to Norman on Sunday for the first Bedlam matchup this season against No. 23 Oklahoma. Three days later, they travel to face a West Virginia team that defeated the Cowgirls 67-61 earlier this season.
“Anytime you get a win in this conference, it's greatly appreciated and well earned,” Littell said. “We've just got to get some rest. … We'll be ready when we go into OU.”