Led by an aggressive, always attacking Kelsi Baker, the Texas Tech women's basketball team was in position all Saturday afternoon to get on a run and take out the Oklahoma State.
The run never came.
The Lady Raiders (21-10, 11-7 in Big 12 play) were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament by Oklahoma State 59-54, saddling the Lady Raiders with their third straight loss as the NCAA Tournament approaches.
Tech overcame a sluggish first half marred by turnovers and poor shooting to creep within one point four times in the final 20 minutes, but Oklahoma State had an answer for every Lady Raider move.
“We just didn’t convert. Credit to them. They got stops when they needed to,” said Baker, who had 17 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for her first double-double in a Lady Raider uniform. “We didn’t convert on the offensive end. We missed shots, and (give) credit to their defense. They rebounded, and we didn’t get as many offensive rebounds as they got.”
Oklahoma State (21-9, 11-7) actually had one more offensive rebound than Tech (19 to 18), but it may have seemed like the Cowgirls dominated the offensive glass to Baker.
Tech had only seven second-chance points, and many of Baker’s eight offensive boards were off her own misses underneath the basket.
Oklahoma State’s Toni Young, who was paired with Baker most of the game, grabbed 10 of her 18 rebounds on the offensive end.
“Coach (Jim Littell) said to keep trying to get rebounds and trying to get every rebound that comes off the rim,” said Young, who chipped in 11 points. “In this game, if I couldn’t produce some offense, I was going to do something productive and that was rebounding.”
Baker started the game 1 for 9 — the entire Tech team went 6 for 25 in the opening half — but rallied and started exploiting one-on-one match ups inside to lead Tech.
Baker scored the first seven points to start the second half as the teams traded blows for the final 20 minutes.
The Cowgirls, led by four players in double digits, never allowed the Lady Raiders to score more than three points in a row after halftime.
Three times Tech stopped Oklahoma State when trailing by one, but all three times Tech failed to put the ball in the hoop.
The final time, with Tech trailing 53-52 with under a minute left, saw Brittney Martin snatch the ball away from Chynna Brown. Young then set off a string of six straight free throws to seal the game.
Brown, Tech’s leading scorer this season and fresh off an All-Big 12 first-team selection, had one of her worst offensive games of the season. She entered Saturday’s game on a string of four straight games with at least 20 points, but she went 0 for 9 from the floor and finished with four points — all off free throws.
Only Baker and Casey Morris (13 points) scored in double digits for the Lady Raiders, who got limited support from a thin bench and shot 34 percent (18 of 53) for the game. Tech also had an uncharacteristic night from the free-throw line, going 13 for 21.
Kendra Suttles led Oklahoma State with 16 points, Martin scored 14, and Donohoe chipped in 13 for a balanced attack, that took awhile to get going.
Tech opened up a 12-5 lead by the 10:47 mark in the first half, shutting down Oklahoma State’s offense. However, the Cowgirls started forcing more Lady Raiders mistake to get its offense going in transition, also moving to more of an isolation-based offense.
The Cowgirls ended the half on a 19-7 run, forcing nine Tech turnovers during the stretch. The Lady Raiders finished with 21 turnovers, their most since the final game of non-conference play (23 in a 86-56 win against Houston).
Senior Casey Morris gave credit to Oklahoma State, but she put Saturday’s loss firmly on the shoulders of the Lady Raiders.
“We can’t make mistakes like that,” Morris said. “I think we lost this game ourselves and we have to take responsibility and keep on moving forward and know that we have more basketball to play.”