“I think they just decided, ‘No, we're not going out like this,'” Adams said.
The experience that this young team has gained over these past few weeks has been invaluable. The chance to keep practicing and continue bonding is no small thing for the future. But nothing is more invaluable than the tenacity that they've shown.
What these Cowgirls have willed themselves to do during the past couple weeks is awe-inspiring.
I'm reminded of watching the OSU men's basketball team battle after its plane crash. Those Cowboys won games that they probably shouldn't have won. They lost games that they probably should've won. They still managed to go to the NCAA Tournament.
But in the end, they ran out of gas.
I was there that night the Cowboys' season ended at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum just outside New York City. They gave it all they had against USC, Eddie Sutton hollering and Fredrick Jonzen scoring and Mo Baker defending and Andre Williams rebounding. They simply didn't have the energy to keep up with the Trojans.
This OSU women's team is every bit as worn down, but still, they have found a way to keep winning and keep playing.
Of course, there is going to come a point very soon when this season will be over. Even if the Cowgirls win Wednesday night and play for the WNIT title Saturday afternoon, the schedule runs out by week's end.
The basketball will stop.
The season will end.
Who knows what happens then, when the games are over and everyone is left with their emotions?
I mean, it's obvious that Budke and Serna are still on these Cowgirls' minds. They still write tributes on their shoes before games. They still have photos or mentions of the coaches on their Twitter pages. They still hug the Budke family after every game.
But if winning three of their four WNIT games by double digits is any indication, these Cowgirls aren't focused on what comes next. They want to prolong this season for each other, for the coaches who they lost and for the coaches who remain.
They want to keep it going for the Budkes, too. Every game is one more chance for them to come to the arena, sit behind the bench and see Budke's fingerprints.
By winning these games, the Cowgirls have extended the bond to what was lost.
“We've been through a tragedy,” Reece said, “but they can make this a special season.”
In so many ways, the Cowgirls already have.