STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) – Oklahoma State made Texas A&M’s last visit to Gallagher-Iba Arena as a conference foe one Aggies coach Gary Blair probably won’t care to remember.
Tiffany Bias scored 14 points and hit a tiebreaking, driving layup with 28 seconds left and Oklahoma State beat a ranked foe for the second time this season, downing No. 14 Texas A&M 57-53 on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma State (12-4, 4-3 Big 12) had lost 14 of its last 16 games against Texas A&M (13-5, 4-3), including the last seven in Stillwater, but the Cowgirls seized control with an 11-0 first-half run.
“They wanted it more than us,” Blair said. “I think we played the game on reputation, not between the ears.”
Texas A&M rallied to twice take a two-point lead in the second half, but the Aggies were done in by a season-high 26 turnovers and couldn’t take advantage of Oklahoma State’s season-high 28 miscues. The Aggies shot 35.1 percent (20 of 57) from the field and shot only eight free throws, despite what, on paper, appeared to be a sizable advantage inside.
Oklahoma State won despite taking only 41 shots, making 18. Coach Jim Littell called the win over the defending national champion one of the biggest for the Cowgirls in recent memory.
It’s one that could pay dividends as Oklahoma State seeks to make the NCAA tournament. The Cowgirls, who beat a ranked Texas team earlier this season, are in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 and also own a win over traditional power Oklahoma.
“I told our players, let’s don’t be scared to dream,” Littell said. “Let’s don’t put any limitations on ourselves, about what tournament we could go to, and just come play and get better every day.”
Oklahoma State went 11 of 12 from the free-throw line in the second half. Lindsey Keller made two free throws with 58.1 seconds left to give the Cowgirls a 58-53 lead, but freshman guard Alexia Standish answered with a 3-pointer for Texas A&M, and Sydney Carter tied the game with a 15-foot jumper with 34.2 seconds left.
The Aggies set up in their full-court press – which gave Oklahoma State fits all night – but Bias broke free down the sideline drove for the layup instead of pulling the ball out and holding for the final shot.
“I had an open lane,” Bias said. “If you have an open shot, if you pass it up, it’s messing up your team.”
On Texas A&M’s final possession, Carter came off a screen and shot from about the same spot she’d hit from moments before.
“I just didn’t knock down the shot,” said Carter, who finished 2 of 14 from the field and scored seven points.
Despite scoreless stretches of four minutes and five minutes in the first half, Oklahoma State led 29-22 at halftime as the Aggies posted their lowest-scoring first half of the season. Texas A&M managed only four points in the final 10 minutes of the half.
The Cowgirls went on the 11-0 run near the end of the half to take a 29-20 lead. Kelsey Bone’s layup 31 seconds before halftime ended a seven-minute stretch without a point for the Aggies, who shot 28.6 percent (8 of 28) and had 14 turnovers in the half.
“I’m really, really proud of our team,” Littell said. “We played about as good as we could play defensively. To hold a team of that caliber to 22 points in the first half was a good job by our players.”
Oklahoma State increased its lead to 34-24 with 15:52 left, but a 14-2 run by the Aggies put them up 38-36 with 11:44 left. Blair said the Aggies passed to their inside players effectively during that stretch, but not for most of the rest of the game.
“We’re getting everybody’s best game. That’s to be expected,” Blair said. “Hopefully, it’s going to make us a better team in March, because the team that played the best tonight won and the team that played the smartest tonight won. Sometimes your best team doesn’t win every game. It’s whoever can play together, whoever has the best game plan.”
Texas A&M forward Adaora Elonu fouled out with 7:31 left but became the second Texas A&M player in as many games to pass the 1,000-point career scoring mark. She finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Liz Donohoe added 11 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma State.
Texas A&M reserve forward Kelsey Assarian was injured after being knocked to the floor by a teammate with 2:15 left. After lying on the floor for several minutes, she walked off the floor under her own power, holding her hand to her forehead. Blair said after the game that Assarian would be OK.
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