Jim Littell proclaimed that his Oklahoma State squad didn't operate as well as normal on offense.
The Cowgirl coach was absolutely right. Saturday marked the Cowgirls' smallest margin of victory this season.
And yet, it was still a blowout, as 14th-ranked OSU rolled by South Florida 75-56 at the All-College Classic at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Just shows the heightened expectations for a Cowgirl squad expected to contend in the Big 12 this season.
“We were a little sluggish offensively compared to what we normally are, but we've been off for 13 days,” Littell said. “But when the ball wasn't going in and we were struggling a little bit offensively, we continued to guard on the other end and didn't relinquish any lead.
“We've always told our team if we're struggling a little bit offensively to play harder on the defensive end, and I thought we did that.”
The result is an 8-0 start for the Cowgirls for the fourth season in a row. No game has been close.
And while the schedule has featured a decent dose of typical early season cupcakes, OSU has also played two power conference schools in USC and South Florida. This Bulls squad, specifically, beat Texas Tech on its home floor in the NCAA Tournament last season and had California, which made the Final Four, on the ropes in the second round.
The Cowgirls started both halves slow, missing six of their first nine shots and tallying just one field goal in the first 3:30 of the second half. Still, OSU finished with four players in double figures.
Point guard Tiffany Bias used a mix of drives to the basket and pullup jumpers to finish with 16 points. The Cowgirls ran a heavy dose of isolation plays for Brittney Martin, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player with 16 points, seven rebounds and three steals. LaShawn Jones provided strength inside with 10 points. And Liz Donohoe led the Cowgirls with 18, bringing her normal outside shooting but also occasionally put the ball on the floor.
That helped OSU push its lead to as many as 23 points in the second half. But the defense was key, as well.
The Cowgirls held South Florida to just 26.7 percent shooting in the first half and 34.5 for the game. After intermission, that forced the Bulls to start launching 3-pointers — they made five in the first seven minutes of the second half — before the OSU defense adjusted.
Inga Orekhova scored 13 points but made just 4-of-14 shots from beyond the arc, while Courtney Williams led the Bulls with 18 points but needed 21 field-goal attempts to reach that mark.
Now the heart of the season begins, starting with next week's trip to the Puerto Rico Classic, where the Cowgirls will face Michigan State and Georgia Tech. Both of those teams received votes in the latest Associated Press poll.
Soon after, Big 12 play awaits.
And though the road so far has been relatively easy for the Cowgirls, they are still nitpicking.
Like noting the offense didn't operate as well as usual in a 19-point victory.
“We're never satisfied with anything that we do,” Bias said. “We can always get better and we can always be better as a team. We believe in each other, and we know that we be nothing but better.”