STILLWATER — Oklahoma State had held Baylor superstar Odyssey Sims to about half of her season scoring average.
She needed 27 shots to reach 17 points.
She sat for a chunk of crunch time, partly because she had four fouls and partly because coach Kim Mulkey said her point guard simply needed to take a deep breath.
But the All-American made the two biggest plays at the end to allow Baylor to escape with an overtime road victory against the team that figures to be one of the Bears' biggest challengers for the Big 12 title.
Sims converted an and-1 layup in transition with three seconds left in the extra period and then stole the ball from OSU's Tiffany Bias on the Cowgirls' final possession to lift 12th-ranked Baylor to a 69-66 win, knocking the No. 8 Cowgirls out of first place in the Big 12 standings.
“That's what people that are up for the National Player of the Year do,” Cowgirl coach Jim Littell said. “They make those plays.”
Those dramatic final moments capped a wild game, which included OSU climbing out of a 16-point, second-half hole to take the lead, a game-tying 3-pointer by Baylor's Makenzie Robertson in the waning seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime and a clock malfunction that allowed the Bears to reset before that tying shot.
Following Robertson's 3-pointer, Bias missed an open transition layup that would have been the game-winner.
“I had it,” Bias said. “I saw shoulders were behind me, it's just one of those things where it was just in and out. It was just one of those things where it was kind of a tough night for me the whole night.
“I wish I would have made it, but it was just one of those things. You've got to move on.”
When asked about that chance to clinch a victory in regulation, Littell refused to put blame on anybody but himself.
He wished he would have fouled on Baylor's final possession, rather than giving Robertson a chance to drain the open 22-footer from the right wing. At the time, he worried about a “nightmare” scenario where Baylor could have used its size advantage — the Bears outrebounded the Cowgirls 55-40 — to put back a missed second free throw.
“There's so many things that are running through your mind at that point,” Littell said. “Obviously, I picked the wrong (defensive plan). Like I said, our kids, each one of us, could have done something a little better, and I could have coached better, too, to give them a better chance.”
Those intense final minutes did not seem probable when Baylor built a 45-29 advantage about five minutes into the second half. Littell said he didn't recognize his team in the first 20 minutes — when the Cowgirls shot just 33.3 percent, turned the ball over 11 times and gave up 12 offensive rebounds — while Bias described the offense as “panicked.”
But OSU staged an 18-3 run to cut Baylor's advantage to 48-47 with 8:25 to play, then pushed its own lead to three points on four occasions before Robertson's 3-pointer.
The Cowgirls also had a chance to win with about 30 seconds remaining in overtime. Littell said the plan was to try to isolate Brittney Martin on the block against the smaller Robertson, but a 3-point attempt by Kendra Suttles that was tipped as the shot clock was winding down led to Sims breaking free in the open court.
The Cowgirls' mood was expectedly somber after letting a chance to knock off the three-time defending Big 12 champs slip away.
Now, Littell said, the task is not to let the loss linger with road games at TCU and Oklahoma coming up this week.
“We can't have one turn into two because we're feeling sorry for ourselves,” he said. “And it's hard. It's hard to lay that much out on the line and be that close and have that opportunity and not get it done. If it doesn't tug at your heart, there's something wrong with you.
“It's tugging on the heart of our kids right now. It's hurting them. And it should. But they're resilient. They've proven over the last few years that this is a very resilient group, and I'm betting that they come back with a lot of character.”