STILLWATER — Tiffany Bias lamented her early season play, so she decided to calm down and let the game come to her in Oklahoma State’s Big 12 basketball opener.
The result: she took it to Texas, leading the No. 11-ranked Cowgirls to a 67-61 win Thursday night before 3,244 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Bias struck for a season-high 23 points to go with six assists and two steals. And she dictated play down the stretch, fully filling her role as senior leader in never coming off the floor.
“Tiffany Bias was probably the difference in the game,” said Texas coach Karen Aston. “She knows the answers that point guards are supposed to know; who to get the ball to at the right time, when to take shots at the right time. She’s a playmaker.”
And she was making key plays against the Longhorns.
About time, too, she said, despite entering the game averaging 12.9 points and a Big 12-best 7.5 assists per game.
“I haven’t played as well as I wanted to play,” Bias said. “I’m wanting to lead my team to victories and just really lead them in the right direction. I just settled down and played tonight.
“I was thinking too much, overthinking the game, and worrying about every little thing. As a point guard you can’t do that. You have to be sound and not let your teammates see you’re frustrated. As a senior point guard, I need to be more focused and more consistent with my play. I think I settled down tonight and just played.”
In a rugged and sometimes ragged game that featured 12 lead changes, OSU showed that it’s learning to close — an issue a year ago — finishing strong to improve to 12-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12. The Longhorns fell to 9-4 and 0-1.
And it was a notable 12th win for the Cowgirls, establishing the best start in program history.
Liz Donohoe added 17 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, and LaShawn Jones shook off early foul trouble to score eight of her 10 points in the second half, providing some toughness in the paint against the bigger Longhorns.
Nneka Enemkpali led Texas with 18 points, but also committed seven of UT’s 17 turnovers and was limited to 23 minutes due to foul trouble. After Texas owned its last lead at 39-38 with 14:37 remaining, Bias sparked a mini-run with an 18-foot jumper and a driving layup that sent OSU in front 44-39. Then she scored six of her team’s final 12 points, including four from the foul line in the final minute to help secure the win.
“She has played well, but she thinks she could have been playing better,” said Cowgirls coach Jim Littell. “However, she sets her standards quite high.”
Against Texas, Littell agreed, Bias approached the high bar.
“I think she realized she is in her senior year and she wants to play well and for the team to do well,” Littell said. “She puts a lot of pressure on herself, but she looked pretty relaxed and confident tonight.
“I thought it was the best she has played in a long time. Not that she hasn't been playing well — she has — but it was at a different level tonight. She hit big shot after big shot, did a good job defensively, executed at the offensive end and I think she showed why she is an All-American.”