Making a last effort to rally from behind, senior forward Mandy Simpson threw the ball to junior guard Taylor Robertson, hopeful that her three-point making abilities would give the Sooners the momentum they needed.
Robertson, calm and loose, looked directly at the net and sank the 3-pointer to shorten the Cowgirls’ lead to 56-46 with 4:01 left in the game. The make gave the prolific shooter — who had just nine such makes through OU's first four games — four from behind the arc for the night.
“I thought she looked more like herself tonight,” head coach Sherri Coale said of Robertson. “She looked brave and courageous with the ball in her hand.”
Oklahoma State (4-2, 1-0 Big 12) immediately called a timeout, and Coale was seen celebrating her players as they huddled around her. But with only seven players available due to COVID-19 contact tracing and three games being played in the past six days, adversity slowed OU (1-4, 0-2 Big 12) down in its hopeful comeback.
The Sooners had trailed the entire game, largely due to their inability to score in the first quarter until a made 2-pointer by sophomore guard Gabby Gregory with 4:51 left in the period. At the end of the first quarter, the Cowgirls maintained the lead, 15-8.
OU’s fight began in the second quarter when freshman guard Skylar Vann made a lay-up to make the score 15-10. The bucket helped the Sooners build the offensive momentum they had been lacking, but it wasn’t sufficient as the Cowgirls carried the lead, 29-20, heading into halftime.
The third quarter exposed the Sooners’ weaknesses and paved the way for the Cowgirls to take a commanding 50-30 lead going into the fourth quarter. Opening up the fourth quarter, the Sooners needed a quick response, and got exactly that with Robertson’s three-pointer.
Despite the energy boost from Robertson’s shot, the Cowgirls immediately responded with a made jumper by sophomore guard Lauren Fields, and OSU steadied its lead to win, 66-53.
Regardless, Coale expressed pride in her squad for continuing to show its strength despite tough circumstances. Freshman Skylar Vann put up 11 points on the Cowgirls’ defense, and remained a threat to the Cowgirls’ offense as she was able to get some key takeaways.
“Three games in six days with six players is hard, and I thought we showed the effects of that,” Coale said. “There were a couple of times tonight (where) each freshman stopped on the floor. It was like their bandwidth had been exhausted. I admire their bravery (and) courage for taking the floor and competing like crazy.”
The grit displayed by the freshmen was also exemplified by their older team members, such as Robertson and sophomore guard Gabby Gregory. Robertson led the way for the Sooners with an impressive 18 points. Right behind her, Gregory finished the night with 14 points.
Though the comeback came up short, Coale expressed great admiration for her squad because of the promise they fostered. The grit the Sooners exhibited in the Bedlam match-up will be beneficial as they face South Dakota this Sunday, Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. CT in the Lloyd Noble Center.
“You could see the character of our team in the fourth quarter,” Coale said. “I loved our comeback. I loved our fight. They are ready for whatever the world wants to throw at them.”