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WNIT: OSU women end tragic season with championship

The Oklahoma State women's basketball team defeated James Madison 75-68 Saturday in the WNIT Championship at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.
By GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com Modified: March 31, 2012 at 7:51 pm •  Published: March 31, 2012

/articleid/3662615/1/pictures/1684060">Photo - Shelley Budke, widow of OSU head coach Kurt Budke, points upwards after cutting down the last of the net after the OSU Cowgirls won the Women's NIT championship college basketball game between Oklahoma State University and James Madison at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, March 31, 2012. Kurt Budke and three others were killed in a plane crash on a recruiting trip in November of 2011. OSU won, 75-68. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Shelley Budke, widow of OSU head coach Kurt Budke, points upwards after cutting down the last of the net after the OSU Cowgirls won the Women's NIT championship college basketball game between Oklahoma State University and James Madison at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, March 31, 2012. Kurt Budke and three others were killed in a plane crash on a recruiting trip in November of 2011. OSU won, 75-68. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

After JMU took an early 9-4 lead, a layup by Bias capped a 19-4 OSU run over the next nine minutes to build a 10-point advantage. That lead would grow to 16 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Young early in the second half before the Cowgirls squashed a late surge by the Dukes that cut OSU's advantage to 64-59 on a jumper by Tarik Hislop with 2:20 remaining.

“When you're talking in terms of basketball, this group has accomplished so much and gotten so much better,” Littell said. “They were exciting to watch. This stretch in the WNIT did so much for our program — the confidence level, allowing a young group to continue to play, a chance to build our fan base.”

Who knows how the Cowgirls will handle their emotions in the coming months, now that the season is over and the everyday routine of basketball will stop for the time being. Young and Bias both admitted that all members of the Cowgirl family have had days where they needed to pick someone up, or needed to be picked up. The grieving — and healing — is still taking place.

But the Cowgirls will always be able to remember that this season ultimately ended in triumph.

“Our group decided in November that we were going to pay honor,” Littell said. “I don't think there's any question that these young ladies paid honor and did things right.”

Added Young: “To see a smile on (the members of the Budke family's) faces and for them to know that we did this for them, it meant a lot.”


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