By Nick Snow
CNHI News Service
DALLAS — It seemed like a situation all too familiar for the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team — build a big lead only to watch Texas Tech steal the game in the final minutes.
Only this time, the Cowgirls didn’t crack under Texas Tech’s pressure.
Six times Tech pulled within one and six times the Cowgirls responded as Oklahoma State beat the Lady Raiders 59-54 Saturday the American Airlines Center in the Big 12 quarterfinals.
The Cowgirls meet No. 1 Baylor at 1 p.m. today in the semifinals.
“I thought our team really competed very well tonight,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “(We) did a lot of good things. I don’t think you’ve got to look any further than what Brittney Martin did for us tonight. She did a great job locking up Chynna Brown.”
Martin held Brown to four points and 0-for-9 from the field, while Kendra Suttles tallied a team-high 16 points. Toni Young also had 11 points and 18 rebounds — including a crucial offensive rebound with 38 seconds left as Oklahoma State (21-7) clung to a 53-52 lead.
“Coach (Littell) said to keep trying to get rebounds and trying to get every rebound that comes off the rim,” Young said. “In this game, if I couldn’t produce some offense, I was going to do something productive and that was rebounding.”
Young then converted a pair of free throws, effectively icing the game for the Cowgirls as Oklahoma State’s never gave Texas Tech (21-10) a chance to mount a comeback.
“Toni Young is a great player, she’s a very athletic player,” Texas Tech forward Kelsi Baker said. “At crucial points in the game, we just didn’t put a body on her and we didn’t box out. It was nothing she was doing ... we just didn’t box out and we didn’t finish plays like we needed to.”
Oklahoma State got off to a little bit of a slow start, turning the ball over six times and falling behind 12-5 in the first nine minutes.
That’s when Martin and Suttles took over the game.
Martin’s back-to-back baskets coupled with six points from Suttles ignited the Cowgirls to a 17-3 run, with Texas Tech’s lone points coming from Casey Morris’ 3-pointer with 6:53 left in the half. Morris hit another 3-pointer with 2:24 remaining in the first half but the Cowgirls were able to take a 24-19 lead into the locker room.
“We went to some different sets offensively, and tried to spread the floor a little bit,” Littell said of the run. “They are a team that’s about the same size across the board, and basically are playing five guards, and they switch everything. We went more to just spreading the floor and trying to iso somebody on the elbow or at the box. I think that was a big difference for us.”
The second half continued to be just as nip and tuck as the first half with Oklahoma State never leading by more than five. Four times in the second half, Texas Tech closed the gap to one, only to see the players like Martin.
Martin finished with 14 points and seven steals — including one with the Cowgirls clinging to a one-point lead.
OU comes back to beat West Virginia
Sharane Campbell drained a go-ahead free throw with five seconds remaining as Oklahoma came back from a 22-point second-half deficit to beat West Virginia 65-64 in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals on Saturday.
Campbell was fouled on a layup attempt by Crystal Leary and made 1 of 2 shots. Bria Holmes got off an unsuccessful 3-point attempt at the buzzer for the Mountaineers.
Nicole Griffin had 16 points, Campbell 15 and Aaryn Ellenberg 12 for the third-seeded Sooners (22-9), who play No. 2 Iowa State in Sunday's semifinals.
Christal Caldwell had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Taylor Palmer added 11 points for West Virginia (17-13), which 51-29 with 17:15 remaining.
– Associated Press