Cowgirls' Memorable Season Comes To End

There were just as many hugs and smiles as there were tears. The scoreboard clock in the New Orleans Arena had just hit zero moments earlier and an Oklahoma State Cowgirls basketball season that will go down as the best ever had ended. The players, and even the coaches, came over and paid homage to the fans. There were some 200 orange clad OSU fans that had made the trip to the Crescent City.

Before losing in the New Orleans Regional semifinals to LSU 67-52, the Cowgirls had tied their all-time record for wins (27-8) and made their second Sweet 16 appearance.

During the season this team exorcized demons like sweeping Baylor and Texas Tech, beating Texas A&M in College Station, beating Oklahoma by 19 in front of the first ever Gallagher-Iba sellout for women's basketball and the largest crowd ever to see women's college basketball in Oklahoma. All those accomplishments, but it was the fans that put the season over the top.

That is why the players, instead of crying and shuffling their way to the locker room, were in the stands celebrating the season of firsts and bests for Oklahoma State. They'll celebrate on into the night in New Orleans before returning to Stillwater, and they deserve it.

As for the game, it was rough. The game was really ugly in the first half and that is the way Oklahoma State appeared to want it. What they didn't want was the poor shooting as the Cowgirls only hit 15 percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes.

LSU was not much better as the two teams see-sawed the lead for the first 15 minutes of the half. Then in the closing minutes of the first half the game was decided by an 11-0 LSU run that featured the first bucket by All-American post player Sylvia Fowles. The Cowgirls had kept her silent, but then a short drive to the basket and a foul made for a traditional three-point play. That was followed by a three-pointer by Erica White and LSU led 29-16 at the intermission. OSU All-American Andrea Riley had 13 of the team's 16 points in the first half.

The Cowgirls played LSU nearly even in the second half and would have had a chance if they had started playing offense a little earlier in the second stanza as they had a five-and-a-half minute drought to start the final 20 minutes. As it was the Cowgirls out-rebounded taller LSU 54-41. They needed to as the Cowgirls turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 22 Lady Tiger points.

The real difference in the game was shooting as the Cowgirls, who held LSU to one of its lowest outputs of the season, could only shoot 28 percent from the field, 28 percent from behind the three-point line, and 67 percent at the free-throw line.

Riley led the Cowgirls with 26 points, but hit on just 9 of 28 shots from the field. Shaunte' Smith set an LSU opponent individual rebound record with 18 rebounds. Smith also had eight points, as did Kristin Hernandez off the bench. Starters Taylor Hardeman (3 points), Danielle Green (2 points), and Maria Cordero (0 points) really struggled against the nation's best defensive team. Cordero was ill all week and had not improved much going into the game.

Erica White led LSU wih 18 points followed by RaShonda LeBlanc with 13, Fowles with 12, and Quianna Chaney with 10.

The OSU season ends at 27-8 leaving Texas A&M as the only Big 12 team left in the tourney. LSU moves to 30-5 and will play top seed North Carolina on Monday as the Tigers look to make their fifth straight Final Four.

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