Cowgirls Pick Up Another Admirer

STILLWATER - "Where was everybody?" asked Missouri head coach Cindy Stein when she walked into the media room following her team's 76-41 loss to the 18th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowgirls. "Was something big going on in this town? Was it movie night in Stillwater?"

Stein could not believe a paltry crowd of 2,927 showed up at Gallagher-Iba Arena on a cold, wet night to see the Cowgirls validate their crushing win over rival and sixth-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday.

Told it was church night, Stein had a comical response. "The holy rollers always win, don't they?" she said.

Actually, no. These days the Cowgirls win and win a lot. The 76-41 win over the young Tigers pushed the Cowgirls record to 15-1 overall and 3-0 in Big 12 play. The Big 12 record keeps them at the top of the standings.

"It is fun to pick up the paper and see how far these girls and this program has come," said Kurt Budke of his team's start in conference play.

The overall mark of 15-1 is now officially the best start ever for the program. These Cowgirls are venturing where no team dressed in Oklahoma State orange has gone before. After the 82-63 win over the Sooners in front of the first ever sell out crowd in Gallagher-Iba for a women's game this step was important. With all the hoopla over the past four days this could have been a misstep.

"It was important, very important," said senior guard Danielle Green, who came through with very close to her average of 14 points and six rebounds. "With everything that went on we knew we had to settle down and focus on this game. It wasn't easy."

"Some people called it (win over OU) a fluke," said junior sharpshooter and defender extraordinaire Taylor Hardeman, who had a season high 16 points, two steals, and two assists. "We won't say who, but I think you can guess."

"I would have hated to have to go on the road tonight," said Budke. "Missouri has a good young team and I knew we would come out sluggish and we did. I think a lot of you predicted we would come out sluggish. I think it shows a lot that we were sluggish and could win the way we did, but we're just three games into conference.

"I think in the end you will see Baylor, OU and Texas A&M at the top and the rest of us will be fighting to get up there."

That is not the way it is right now. Everybody except Kansas State is chasing the Cowgirls.

While Andrea Riley was impressive again against Missouri with a team-high 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, and only three turnovers, that was 26 points less and three turnovers more than her line in the box score on Saturday against Oklahoma.

However, there were efforts in the box like Hardeman's 16 points, Green's 14 points and 6 rebounds, Maria Cordero had 12 points and 6 rebounds, and Shyvon Spears had 11 rebounds and 5 blocked shots to go with 2 points.

"We are going to have to have box scores like that to compete in the Big 12," said Budke. "Andrea is a great player, but this is not a one-person team. We need to have balance and then hope one player can really go off each game.

"Tonight I thought it was Hardeman, with her 16 points. Then look at Shyvon Spears with 11 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. She did her job. She doesn't have to score to do what we need her to in order for us to be successful."

You don't have to convince Cindy Stein, by the time she was through with the media she was acting more like Oklahoma State's marketing director for women's basketball than the head coach of the beaten Missouri Tigers.

"People need to come out and see this," said Stein. "This team is special. They are the best show in town. The crowd feeds off the team and the team feeds off the crowd. If you get a lot of people in there this could be really special. They have the kind of team that can go far in the NCAA."

That's pretty good validation. However, in the business of college basketball you are only as good as your last game. Okay, the Cowgirls are pretty good. Saturday they have to take their show, as Stein called it, back on the road and a very angry and frustrated Texas A&M team is awaiting the Cowgirls arrival in College Station. Stein might be happy to know, the buses are rolling and the Cowgirls will take some crowd with them.

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