Oklahoma State suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, a 71-67 setback to West Virginia in which the Cowgirls let a nine-point lead slip away in the final five minutes.
Here are three things OSU can take away from the defeat as the Cowgirls attempt to bounce back at Kansas State on Wednesday.
PROTECT THIS HOUSE — AND THIS LEAD
This was an issue for OSU a season ago, and one the Cowgirls will need to overcome — especially at home — to be serious Big 12 title contenders.
Cowgirl coach Jim Littell said his team got “soft” in the last six minutes. Not necessarily on offense, where OSU made just one field goal over the last eight minutes. But defensively, as the Mountaineers were able to pound the ball inside for easy layups during their 15-2 run to end the game.
But some offense down the stretch would help, too.
The Cowgirls can score from all over the floor, whether it's Tiffany Bias penetrating to the bucket, LaShawn Jones getting the ball inside, Liz Donohoe shooting from the wing or Brittney Martin releasing from midrange off isolation plays.
OSU can survive when one player is having an off night. But 7-of-30 in the second half won't cut it. Establishing a consistent go-to player in crunch time is needed, too.
OSU had done well sinking clutch free throws so far this season against Michigan State in Puerto Rico (Bias went 4-of-4 in the final minute) and in its Big 12 opener against Texas (18-of-20 overall in a 67-61 win).
But missing foul shots is often the difference in conference play, when so many games come down to a handful of possessions.
TALKIN' ABOUT PRACTICE
Littell revealed after the West Virginia game that he has not been happy with the Cowgirls' practice habits since they returned from a break for Christmas.
Littell said that's on him. But it's the players' responsibility, too.
Perhaps the loss to the Mountaineers served as a bit of a wake-up call.