If Wednesday's 64-59 win over nationally ranked Oklahoma State is any indication of the rest of the road ahead, it could be a fun ride for the Lady Raiders. Chynna Brown's three pointer with :45 broke a 57-57 tie and the Lady Raiders never looked back, starting Big 12 Conference play with a 64-59 win over the Cowgirls.
But as I look back at the closing stages of the game, I think what was so encouraging was that the Lady Raiders had something they needed from Brown, Casey Morris, and Monique Smalls down the stretch - senior leadership.
With the game on the line, all three contributed at different times in different ways. In addition to Brown's clutch 3, Smalls and Morris were asked to knock down critical free throws in the closing stages - and they did.
Morris also overcame a tough shooting night to nail a big jumper from the top of the key tying the score at 55 with 2:33 left. And although Tiffany Bias did erupt for 27 points for OSU, Smalls stole the ball from her with :30 left helping seal the deal.
Those three obviously weren't the only key players to winning the game, but they did prove that when this team needed leadership those seniors were there in crunch time.
That's something this team, I believe, has lacked in recent years. Looks like they have it now.
Iowa State is up next at the USA at 7 PM Saturday night. They're known for being smart and playing with good fundamentals. Fortunately, the Lady Raiders have senior leaders (among others) who can handle that.
They proved it Wednesday in Stillwater, and now a chance to do it again at home for two straight. Hope to see you there!