Cowgirls Heading To Sweet 16

Andrea Riley made just one of 10 shots in the first half, and missed two potential game-winning layups in the final two minutes of regulation time in Monday night's second-round NCAA Tournament game against Florida State. But the OSU sophomore made the one shot that mattered most – a free throw with 0.7 seconds left in overtime – to give Oklahoma State a 73-72 victory and a berth in the Sweet 16.

The Cowgirls, who tied a school record with their 27th victory (27-6), advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1991. The third-seeded Cowgirls will face No. 2 seeded LSU, a 68-49 winner over Marist on Monday night, in the regional semifinals on Saturday in New Orleans.

Riley's game-winning free throw came after several minutes of deliberation from the officials, who watched a television replay to determine if the OSU sophomore was fouled before the buzzer by Florida State's Shante Williams, and then to figure out how much time to put back on the clock after the final buzzer had sounded. They finally put 0.7 seconds on the clock, and then placed Riley at the line for her two free throws.

Her first free throw bounced off the rim, but her second found nothing but net. Riley then intercepted the Seminoles' Mara Freshour's long pass to cinch the victory.

"There's nobody else we wanted at the free-throw line," OSU head coach Kurt Budke said on national television (ESPN2) after the victory. "She's not going to miss two (in a row). She's delivered all year long."

Riley made the game-winning free throw but it was Shaunte' Smith, Maria Cordero and Megan Byford who made the big plays in the extra five-minute period to give her a chance to avenge her horrible first-half shooting woes.

Smith's offensive rebound and putback gave the Cowgirls a 67-65 lead in overtime. Cordero hit a three-pointer from the corner in front of the Cowgirl bench a few minutes later after making a deflection which led to a steal on the defensive end to make it a five-point lead (70-65).

But the Seminoles would not go away. Cordero picked up her fifth foul on a loose ball, sending Tanea Davis-Cane to the foul line. She made her first but missed the second and the Seminoles got the rebound, which led to Freshour's three-pointer which made it 70-69 with 59 seconds left in overtime.

Byford's offensive rebound and putback gave the Cowgirls a three-point advantage but Freshour hit another three-pointer wiuth 17.7 seconds on the clock to tie it up 72-72.

That's when Budke instructed Riley to win the game for the Cowgirls. He elected not to call a timeout, and let the Cowgirl point guard work the clock down to under five seconds before she made her move to the basket. She went up for a shot between two Florida State players as the free throw line where she was clearly fouled by Williams. Riley stood in front of the Cowgirl bench trying to remain focused before the officials finally decided to place 0.7 seconds back on the clock. She then sank the second free throw to send the Cowgirls packing for New Orleans and Saturday's showdown with LSU.

Danielle Green led the Cowgirls with 23 points, while Riley added 21 and Taylor Hardeman contributed 11.

"To be 0-16 (in Big 12 play), to the Sweet 16 in a couple of years is very special. I'm so proud of them right now," Budke said of the Cowgirls.

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