Just a minute and 40 seconds into the second half, Oklahoma State head coach Jim Littell called timeout. His team was in trouble.
After watching their 8-point lead evaporate over the last four minutes of the first half, the Cowgirls now trailed 38-31. OU was in the midst of a 13-0 run. From the conclusion of the timeout until the 6:21 mark in the fourth quarter, a 12-minute stretch, OSU outscored OU 30-12 and took complete control of the game.
OSU's momentum continued until the final buzzer sounded, with the scoreboard showing a Cowgirls victory over the Sooners, 73-69.
“We just needed to wake up,” OSU junior forward Vivian Gray said. “We got off to a bit of a slow start, which we have a tendency to do. I think once we rallied after the timeout, we played really well and played hard and played for each other.”
During that stretch, junior forward Natasha Mack and Gray combined for 19 of the Cowgirls’ 30.
“I thought Vivian played her best game of the year,” OSU head coach Jim Littell said. “Her pace that she played with, the composure, the confidence level she played at was really good.”
Gray finished with 24 points and four assists. Mack finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
On both ends of the floor, Mack’s size proved troublesome for OU.
“Her presence makes an amazing difference,” OU sophomore guard Madi Williams said. “Her long arms, how tall she is and how small we are compared to her.”
Size has been a common theme for OU this season, as the undersized Sooners seem to be trounced again and again by an opponent with taller players and longer arms. But according to head coach Sherri Coale, the defensive effort was lacking tonight as well.
“We looked really unconvicted in the second half of how we were defending,” Coale said. “Give them credit, Mack and Gray were really, really good.
Though the bulk of the Cowgirls’ scoring came from Gray and Mack, sophomore guard Ja’Mee Asberry made her presence known on the other end of the floor.
“I thought Ja’Mee Asberry was a big factor in the ball game with what she did on Taylor Robertson,” Littell said. “She stuck to the scout. Taylor will make you pay if you miss an assignment, but for the most part, I thought our assignments were sound all night long.”
Littell added that Asberry was denying not only OU’s first scoring option but one of the most prolific shooters in the nation.
“I think she's one of the best 3-point shooters in the country,” Littell said. “I don't think there's any doubt of that. There's a reason why she was in the gym two hours before, I mean good players do that.”
Asberry’s defense wreaked havoc on OU’s offensive plans, but it also took the load off of Gray, opening up more opportunities for her on offense.
“Ja’Mee played amazing defense,” Gray said. “She played so hard. She stuck with her. She fought over every single screen and they set a lot of screens on her. I'm so proud of Ja’Mee."
According to Coale, OU’s offensive struggles stemmed not from the denial of Robertson, but from the Sooners’ lack of movement in response to that denial, especially after halftime
“In the second half, our movement, our screening, our action wasn't nearly what it needed to be,” Coale said. “I don't want to take anything away from them because they did a good job on her. But I think we did a lot of those things to ourselves.”
The Sooners will be back in the Lloyd Noble Center on Sunday, Feb. 16, when they host Kansas State. The game will be played at 2 p.m. CT.