STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State women’s basketball team just held off a young Texas Tech squad starving for its first conference win, with a Tiffany Bias coast-to-coast layup lifting the Cowgirls to a last-second victory.
Next, the No. 15 Cowgirls host an Iowa State team that once held a top-15 ranking but is now starving for a resume win to capture a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
That’s typical of the Big 12, particularly down the stretch, when pressure-packed games become the norm.
But there’s plenty on the line for OSU, as well.
The Cowgirls are already a lock for the NCAA Tournament with three regular-season games and the Big 12 Tournament remaining. But one more victory would clinch at least a tie for third place in the conference standings, and two more wins would set a school record for most conference victories in a season.
“We’ve got a lot to play for, too,” coach Jim Littell said.
Even with the postseason certainty, this is also still an OSU team largely trying to snap out of a rut.
The Cowgirls have alternated wins and losses over their last nine games, a stretch that lasted more than a month. Three of those five wins have come by closer-than-expected margins on the road against TCU (49-46), at home against Kansas (76-74) and in Lubbock Sunday. A 73-57 victory over Oklahoma was the only truly decisive performance.
And while Bias is pushing for All-America recognition, ranking second in the Big 12 in assists (6.31) and steals (2.31) and seventh in the league in scoring (14.5 points per game), key complementary pieces like Brittney Martin and Liz Donohoe have been inconsistent.
“I heard Fran Fraschilla say one time that you’re gonna play great a third of the time, you’re gonna average a third of the time and you’re gonna be off your game a third of a time,” Littell said. “And if you can find a way to win when you’re off your game a little bit, that’s gonna determine what your season’s like.
“We’ve been that way quite a bit of the time — we’ve been a little off or we haven’t had everybody play great, but we’ve still found a way to win basketball games.”
Wednesday the Cowgirls will attempt to replicate one of their better performances of the season, when they went into Hilton Coliseum — arguably the toughest venue for a visitor in the Big 12 — and beat Iowa State 69-62 when the Cyclones were ranked 11th in the country.
Iowa State, meanwhile, would likely earn its spot in the NCAA Tournament with a road victory over OSU, especially because Hilton Coliseum is a host site for the first and second rounds.
“They’re gonna do everything that they can to make sure that they’re playing in (the first and second rounds at home),” Littell said of the Cyclones. “They’re gonna have great effort, they’re gonna be very focused and they’re starting to play like Iowa State can.”