Bryan Rallies Cowgirls To Victory

STILLWATER - The Oklahoma Sooners lead throughout Saturday afternoon's Bedlam contest but with the game coming down to the wire Oklahoma State head coach Jim Littell turned to a "real" Cowgirl in Jenni Bryan

In a game that appeared in the box score to be very even with Oklahoma State outrebounding the Sooners 48-42, the Sooners with one more turnover at 13-12, and the personal fouls within one at the end of the game, the real difference in the game was shooting.

OU was shooting just a little better than the Cowgirls. Bryan came in only averaging 10 minutes and 2.1 points a game for the season. In the Big 12, Bryan was averaging just three minutes a game and had yet to take a shot from the field or the free-throw line in three conference games.

Bryan, who is the daughter of former OU All-American and Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Ricky Bryan, is known for staying out in the field and working all day on the family farm and in her free time noddling for catfish.

She is a real Cowgirl and in the final half of the second half she was the difference maker in shooting. Bryan started off with a three-pointer from the wing in front of the Oklahoma State bench that bounced off the heel and then fell through to trim the OU lead to 53-48.

The Sooners kept the Cowgirls at bay and Bryan showed her other side following up a follow in the crowded paint to bank in a shot and make the score 57-52. In all, Bryan was the difference as she hit 3-of-4 from the field and both her free throw attempts.

"Jenni Bryan brought an extreme toughness to the game," said Littell. "Not just her scoring but the way she defended (Whitney) Hand down there in the final minutes of the game. I thought she turned it around.

"It's clutch shot and what we did to start the second half and we were 1-for-12 at the half from three," added Littell. "We made a conscious effort to go inside. Made a few shots where they had to go down a little bit and that opened the outside up."

The real difference maker came from the other wing in front of the Jack Nicholson seats at Gallagher-Iba. Point guard Tffany Bias threw the pass around the Sooners Morgan Hook and Bryan did a catch and shoot trey that sailed through the net to give the Cowgirls a 65-63 lead with 28 seconds left.

"It (the set up) felt good coming from Tiffany," Bryan said with a big grin on her face. "I thought when she passed it that this (shot) better go in. I would have let her down and I didn't want to do that."

"This game means a lot to Jenni Bryan and she obviously stepped up and met the challenge," Littell said about putting her in the game when he did after she had not played in the first half.

"I don't think it has soaked in that we won yet," continued Bryan. "I'm still playing the game. It will soak in here in a minute. This rivalry is big in my family. My dad played at OU and he wanted me to go to OU, and I had the chance to go here and came to OSU, and it is a challenge and I like the challenge."

On the other end, after an OU timeout, Bias stole the ball from her counterpart Aaryn Ellenberg. After one made free throw on the other end, freshman Liz Donohoe blocked Morgan Hook's desparation attempt to tie the game at the buzzer.

The Cowgirls won it 66-63 and narrowed that shooting percentage gap as OU was 22-of-64 for 34.4 percent while the Cowgirls were 22-of-67 for 32.8 percent. Close enough!

"I just got through telling this team that this is year 34 for me (in coaching) and I've never been more proud of a group the way they competed and the way they fought and how resilient they were," added Littell.

Anyone that felt the Bedlam rivalry would be softer because of the tragedy that claimed the lives of Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna and the way OU head coach Sherri Coale and her team rallied around Littell, his staff, and his team would have been wrong. The two teams fought hard on the floor, but it is off the floor that the rivalry is filled more with respect than antimosity.

"Sherri Coale has texted me a lot and she has been a good friend, and I think as a game I want to keep this in context," said Littell. "They have had our number for a long time and so it is big for our kids but they have had our number for a long time. This is just one out of the whole 18 games. I want to mention her name that she has been good to me throughout the tragedy and after."

Bryan had her 10 points but Bias and Donohoe each had 14 points to lead the Cowgirls. Toni Young finished with 12 to round out the double figure scorers. It's important to note that Vicky McIntyre had five blocked shots on the defensive end, while Bias had four steals.

Joanna McFarland hit 4-of-6 three pointers and led Oklahoma with 16 points, while Whitney Hand added 14 for the Sooners.

The Cowgirls are 10-3 and 2-2 in the Big 12. Oklahoma is now 10-5 and also 2-2 in the Big 12.

Oklahoma State will be at home on Wednesday hosting a stout Kansas team at 7 p.m.

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