STILLWATER — The tale of Oklahoma State's WNIT run can largely be summed up in three parts.
Toni Young's resurgence. Liz Donohoe's continued emergence. And a dash of typical Tiffany Bias performances mixed in.
That was on display Wednesday night, as OSU's core trio combined for 62 points in the Cowgirls' 73-57 victory over San Diego at Gallagher-Iba Arena to advance to the WNIT championship game.
“They're just playing a lot looser, a lot freer,” OSU coach Jim Littell said. “Tiff said on the way up here it's kind of like a pickup game right now. That's kind of how we're playing, and our players are enjoying playing that way.
“Because of that, I think all three of them have been more productive and have been able to use their athletic ability.”
OSU (21-12) will host James Madison, which beat Syracuse 74-71 in Wednesday's other semifinal, at 2 p.m. Saturday in the program's first appearance in the WNIT championship game.
Young set a season-high with 27 points, eclipsing her mark of 22 set less than two weeks ago against Central Arkansas in the tournament's first round. Donohoe scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for her fourth consecutive double-double and seventh overall this season. Bias scored 15 points and added eight assists to help facilitate an offense that recorded its second-best shooting performance of the season (51.9 percent) — and its best since the season opener against Rice.
“You just see them evolve into a better player,” Bias said of Young and Donohoe. “That's what these extra games do for you is just allow you play and get some extra games under your belt and allow everyone to click. Their shots are falling.
“Usually, at the end of the season, people are dead tired and things aren't falling. But as our season's going, everyone's improving.”
It was a game that was never in doubt from the midpoint of the first half on.
After a 3-pointer by Morgan Woodrow capped an 11-2 San Diego (26-9) run to cut OSU's lead to 19-17 at the 8:55 mark of the first half, the Cowgirls finished the period on a 19-5 spurt to take a 16-point advantage into the locker room.
That Cowgirl lead later ballooned to 22 on a driving layup by Bias with 8:18 remaining.
The first 20 minutes largely belonged to Donohoe, who scored 15 of her 20 points before intermission by using her versatile game. She nailed a trio of three-pointers against the San Diego zone defense and put the ball on the floor to score near the bucket.
Then when San Diego switched its defense to man-to-man to account for Donohoe's range, Young took over with her turnaround jumper and ability to rebound and put the ball back in the basket.
“We just didn't have an answer for Toni today,” San Diego coach Cindy Fisher said. “I watched a lot of film coming into this game and had a lot of things prepared for her, and I thought she just completely (went) to a different level tonight. That's obviously where we lost the ballgame right there.”
OSU, which has not had to leave home during the WNIT, now has three more days to utilize the extra time in the gym this postseason run has provided. Not to mention one more chance to play in front of a Gallagher-Iba crowd that has continued to grow with each game.
What would capturing the championship mean?
“It would be something that we could be very proud of,” Littell said. “Just show the character of these kids and what they're made of.
“That ain't gonna change, win or lose. The character of this group and how they've been all year long, I'm just blessed to be coaching them.”