Go West, Cowgirls, Go West

The Oklahoma State Cowgirls, as expected, heard their name called early in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Selection Show and head coach Kurt Budke's third team to go to the Big Dance will head west for the first and second round site at Tempe, Ariz. The Cowgirls are part of the Sacramento Regional as the fourth seed and will open with Southern Conference champion Tennessee-Chattanooga.

The top seed in the Sacramento Regional is once beaten Stanford of the Pac-10. The fourth seed is great for Oklahoma State with their 23-10 record and reflects the strength of the Big 12 Conference where they finished seventh on the league race and earned their way with wins over Kansas and Iowa State into the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

"We're excited about it. The committee told us they would reward us for what we accomplished this year," said Budke. "Sometimes, if you have an injury, you worry about them dropping you down a seed or two because of that. The committee kept their word and we're happy with the No. 4 seed."

They could match up with fifth seed Georgia (23-8) or C-USA champion Tulane (26-6) in the second round. However, that second round may never come for OSU.

While the seed is great, the opponent may not be as the Tennessee-Chattanooga Lady Mocs finished the season 24-8. At full strength the Cowgirls would be a decided favorite over Chattanooga, but without leading scorer and record setter Andrea Riley the Cowgirls are no better than even with the Lady Mocs.

Riley is being forced to sit out the first game of the tournament from a suspension levied two years ago when she took a swipe at an LSU player in the 2008 NCAA Tournament in a regional semifinal game in New Orleans. The NCAA Tournament Committee made the ruling and now that same committee has made the choice as to who the Cowgirls must play without Riley.

Riley leads OSU with 26.6 points a game scoring and in the Big 12 Tournament scored 37 points against Kansas, 43 points against Iowa State, and then 32 points against OU to blow away the tournament record with 112 points. She is the all-time leading scorer in Big 12 history and has taken 300 more shots than any other player on the team. She also has a team-high 213 assists this season.

The Lady Mocs defeated Clemson this season 69-56, went 16-4 in the conference, and lost to tournament teams at home like Villanova (64-59) and Georgia (74-57) and on the road to Kentucky (65-55) and E. Tennessee State (85-61). The Lady Mocs were 12-2 at home and 4-0 at neutral sites.

They are led by 6-0 senior Shanara Hollinquest who averages 17.1 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. Another senior 5-9 Jenoya Wade-Fray averages 13.2 points a game and shoots 32 percent from three point range. Freshman guard Kayla Christopher averages 9.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game and shoots 41 percent from three point range and 85 percent from the free throw line.

Chattanooga is not huge although another starter Megan Rollins is 6-1 and the sixth person off the bench is 6-2 Michelle Davis.

The Cowgirls will need big games from Tegan Cunningham, three-point shooter Lakin Garrison, and emerging freshman post Toni Young. Any Cowgirls that can need to come up with career games in order to give Riley another opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.

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