OSU Looks For A Special Day In New Orleans

The task looks more than daunting, really nearly impossible. Unlike the opponents in Des Moines, Iowa last week, this week the Oklahoma State Cowgirls are taking on a program that has won two and a half times as many NCAA Tournament games as the OSU program has played. LSU has made four consecutive trips to the Final Four, and this is just OSU's second ever trip to the Sweet 16.

By all rights, and especially in New Orleans, a home away from home, LSU should rip through Oklahoma State.

"We understand who we're playiny. LSU is unbelievable," said OSU head coach Kurt Budke. "This is a team and I think they are one of four teams that has a legitimate chance to win the national championship.

"Sylvia Fowles in incredible and I don't think there is another player in the nation that you can compare her to, how athletic she is and what she can do on the floor. (LSU head coach) Van Chancellor is a Hall of Fame coach that has excelled at every level of the game and it will be an honor to coach against him. We only have to beat them one time. It is not four out of seven; it is just one time."

Budke is right. The Cowgirls don't have to dismantle the LSU castle, just throw a few rocks at it in one afternoon and distract the current Lady Tigers long enough to get beat. That can happen, although it won't be easy.

"We're going to have to play as close to a perfect game as possible to beat these people," continued Budke. "For us to succeed we have to go back to the formula of Andrea (Riley) having a great game and also having three or four others in double figures. If that happens and we keep the turnovers down like we did the other night against Florida State then we could beat them. Our team is playing their best basketball and we believe we have chance to get that done."

The Cowgirls are excited. You know Andrea Riley has become nearly as big a name in this tournament as Sylvia Fowles. The Cowgirls "mighty mite" isn't nearly as tall but could give the Tigers as much trouble as Fowles could give Maria Cordero and the other OSU post players. A real key is for the Cowgirls not to act intimidated. Saturday afternoon an early factor will be looking and acting like you belong.

"I don't want them to take us for granted and overlook us," said Riley when one might think that is exactly what OSU would want. "For us to go and play them it is important for us to say we are one of the top teams in the nation too, and for them to recognize us that way."

"We have a lot of game experience and we aren't here just to play the game, we're here to win," said one of the Cowgirls two senior starters Danielle Green, who will help OSU face a full starting line up of seniors in LSU. "They need to know we are not going in there just to be on the floor with LSU. We are coming in with our game plan and we are going to be ready to play and not wide-eyed."

The two teams have two common opponents this season. LSU swamped TCU, without Fowles, 73-54, while OSU, off a two-week layoff, lost to the Frogs 97-63. The Tigers beat Florida State in the regular season 73-61, while the Cowgirls just beat the Seminoles in overtime to reach the Sweet 16, 73-72.

Holding Fowles down will be critical and the Cowgirls will have some fouls to give, they'll need to do it. Anything to disrupt Fowles game and anything to get Riley loose or Taylor Hardeman open or Green a put back. All that and more will be needed to beat the Tigers in their home state.

Game 3 - 2008 NCAA Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament
Saturday, March 29, 1:30 p.m. at New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, La.
(2) LSU vs. (3) Oklahoma State
LSU Starters (29-5)
Erica White, G, 5-3, Sr., 7.4 ppg / 2.8 rpg / 4.4 apg
RaShonda LeBlanc, G, 5-7, Sr., 6.2 ppg / 3.4 rpg
Quianna Curry, G, 5-11, Sr., 14.8 ppg / 2.6 rpg
Ashley Thomas, F, 6-0, Sr., 5.4 ppg / 4.5 rpg
Sylvia Fowles, C, 6-6, Sr., 17.2 ppg / 9.9 rpg

Oklahoma State Starters (27-7)
Andrea Riley, PG, 5-5, So., 23.0 ppg / 3.6 rpg / 4.2 apg
Taylor Hardeman, G, 5-10, Jr., 7.4 ppg / 2.4 rpg
Danielle Green, G, 5-8, Sr., 13.7 ppg / 7.4 rpg
Shaunte' Smith, F, 6-0, Jr., 9.3 ppg / 8.8 rpg
Maria Cordero, C, 6-3, Sr., 9.6 ppg / 6.1 rpg

Tournament History
Oklahoma State

Last Appearance: 2007, lost to (7) Bowling Green 70-66 @ East Lansing, Mich.
9th Appearance (1989, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 2007, 2008)
All-Time Record: 6-8
Highest Seed: 5th in 1991
Furthest Advance: Sweet 16 this season and in 1991 beating DePaul 81-80, Michigan State 96-94 (3OT), losing to Virginia 76-61

Last Appearance: 2007, Final Four
18th Appearance (This year making their 10th consecutive, four consecutive Final Four appearances)
All-Time Record: 34-17

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