DALLAS — About 90 seconds remained when the other Brittney on the court at American Airlines center stole the ball from the Lady Bears a second straight possession.
The one before yielded a layup from Cowgirl point guard Tiffany Bias, creating a single-possession game in the final minute of Sunday’s opening Big 12 tournament semifinal at American Airlines Center.
Alas, Oklahoma State’s Brittney Martin’s swipe led only to the last of the Cowgirls’ 13 turnovers.
Jordan Madden hit a dagger 3 at the other end and that was that. Baylor pulled away in the final minute and prevailed 77-69.
Still, oh, what a show OSU provided.
Cowgirl coach Jim Littell said his program isn’t “into moral victories.” Then he made it abundantly clear it had just secured one.
“It’s something we can take forward the rest of this season and for years to come,” Littell said, “that we can play with a lot of people.”
Projected to be a No. 6-seed headed to Spokane, Wash., when NCAA tourney bids come out, according to the latest installment of ESPN bracketology, the Cowgirls may well have helped themselves to be selected higher. Over two days in Dallas, they picked up a huge win over higher-seeded Texas Tech and took the nation’s clear No. 1 team to the wire.
“I think it’s a big pride factor and lot of heart,” Bias said. “You just have to go out there and play … I think the last few games we played (against Baylor) we played timid.”
Not this time.
The Cowgirls got 22 points and 11 rebounds from Toni Young, who may have distinguished herself most through her willingness to take on Brittney Griner straight up. Griner finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds, but did, for a change, appear mortal trying to guard Young.
“I was having fun … She’s 6-8, you’re going to get blocked sometimes,” Young said. “You have to take your chances. I was having fun taking chances.”
Liz Donahoe added 20 points and seven rebounds for the Cowgirls. Bias finished with 19, six assists and four steals.
Brooklyn Pope and Odyssey Sims both added 12 points for the Lady Bears.
Baylor led by 17 points in the first half before OSU cut it to eight, before the Lady Bears took a 45-33 edge into intermission.
It was back to 17 as late as 13:22 remaining in the game, but that was when the Cowgirls found their best game on both ends of the floor.
“I think we let Oklahoma State’s defense beat us up on offense,” said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, whose Lady Bears turned it over 24 times. “(We) couldn’t get the ball to Brittney.”
OSU scored on four straight possessions, an 8-0 run, to make it a nine-point game, 58-49, with 11:19 remaining. Then, after three empty trips, OSU converted on 13 of 15 possessions to climb within 72-69.
Then Martin stole the ball, but the Cowgirls couldn’t convert.
“I would have loved to put a little more pressure on them,” Littell said.
Regardless, his team had made its point.
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