STILLWATER, Okla. – Despite another 20-point performance from senior All-American Vivian Gray and a double-double from Taylah Thomas, the Texas Tech Lady Raiders fell 61-56 to the Oklahoma State Cowgirls Saturday night at Gallagher-IBA Arena.
The difference in the ballgame was the free-throw line, as Texas Tech (9-14, 2-10 Big 12) shot just 9-of-14.
Oklahoma State (8-14, 3-10 Big 12) made its first 18 from the line before eventually shooting 21-of-27.
Thomas finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Bryn Gerlich finished with six points, five rebounds and three helpers.
Guard Lauren Fields led the way for Cowgirls scoring 20 points in her 39 minutes of action. She was joined in double-figures by teammates Lexy Keys (16 points, 6 rebounds) and Micah Dennis (15 points, 7-of-7 FT).
HOW IT HAPPENED:
After Oklahoma State opened the game with eight of the first 12 to lead 8-4 with 6:42 to play, Tech and Gray answered with four straight to tie the game at eight with 2:33 to play.
The two sides traded baskets down the stretch, as the game entered the second quarter tied at 12.
In the second, Tech used back-to-back jumpers from Rhyle McKinney and a jumper from Gray to take a 16-14 advantage with 7:31 to play.
OSU scored six of the next 10 to take a 20-19 lead, but Thomas answered with a layup that put Tech in front by one.
Over the final four minutes and 20 seconds of the first half, Fields and the Cowgirls held Tech to just a Gray jumper with one second to play. The Cowgirls scored eight points over the span to take a 27-23 lead into the halftime break.
After intermission, five of the first seven points went the way of OSU, as the Cowgirls led 32-26 just 56 seconds into the period.
The Lady Raiders responded with the next four points to draw to within 32-30 with 7:08 to play, but OSU scored the next five to take a 37-30 lead with 5:9 left in the third.
Tech used three layups from Thomas and Chantae Embry to pull to within 37-36 with 2:54 to play. Embry finished with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting. She hit a 3-pointer for the fourth straight game.
The Lady Raiders had three straight chances to regain the lead but ultimately could not, as the Cowgirls scored six of the next seven to take a 43-37 lead with five seconds to play in the third.
A Gray pull-up jumper at the horn, pulled her team to within 43-40 at the conclusion of three quarters of action.
In the fourth, Tech used another jumper from Gray to cut the OSU lead to just 43-42 with 8:41 left, but OSU used five clutch points from Keys to pull ahead 48-42 with 6:59 left.
A Thomas triple and a free throw from McKinney brought the Lady Raiders to within a pair (48-46), before Keys answered with another 3-pointer. The shot jump started an 8-1 run that put the home team ahead 56-48 with 3:36 to play.
The Lady Raiders would answer with the next five, using a pair of free throws from McKinney and a triple from Gray to draw to within 56-53 with 2:33 to play.
After the Cowgirls missed a pair at the line, Tech secured the defensive rebound.
On the ensuing possession, Oklahoma State poked the ball into the backcourt.
Both Embry and De Lapp battled for the ball, and it looked like De Lapp hooked the freshman from Norman. Instead of charging the foul on the forward for OSU, which would have been her fifth, official Demoya Williams deemed the foul to some how be on Embry.
The foul gave possession of the ball back to Fields and the Cowgirls.
Tech forced a turnover on the next possession, and Gray hit a pair from the line to bring Tech to within 56-55 with 1:08 to play.
A Lauren Fields triple jumpstarted a 5-0 run from OSU. The run increased the once 56-55 lead to 61-55 with 39 ticks to play.
After a Gerlich timeout, Embry nailed a triple to bring the Lady Raiders to within three (61-58) with five seconds to play.
Keys was fouled on the ensuing possession with four seconds to play and missed the first free throw before calmly sealing the game with the second shot.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
• With her 20 point performance Gray moved to within 38 points of 2,000 for her career.
• Tech managed just nine total assists and turned the ball over 16 times.
• The Lady Raiders did however force 19 OSU turnovers.
• Gray made a season high two 3-pointers.
• After going the entire game against UT without attempting a free-throw Gray did make a trip to the line until the final minute of the game. Had she not shot a free-throw tonight, it would have been the first time in her nearly 100 game career that she did not attempt a free-throw in a game.
• Gray has now attempted at least one from the line in 96-of-99 games.
• Thomas had at least 10 rebounds for the second consecutive game.
• Tech was 5-of-8 from behind the arc in the second half, after shooting 0-for-4 in the first.
COACH SPEAK (HC KRISTA GERLICH):
"Tonight was another hard fought game in a tough environment, but I thought our kids battled and gave themselves a chance to win at the end. We still need to find a way to make a couple of big plays down the stretch to make the difference. We had a couple of turnovers that were very costly and we gave up an offensive rebound. We didn't get to the free-throw line enough either. It's just multiple things that we need to sure up. Our kids are fighting hard for us and are helping us establish our culture. They've got great attitudes and continue to dig deep and try to give us their very best. It's a process. And then we're also playing shorthanded. We need to continue to trust the process and keep fighting. That's what I love about this team they keep fighting."
On Gray's performance:
"I love Vivian's fight. I'm sure it's hard for her and Bryn to come back here and play. She was really in a good frame of mind tonight and kept battling even as the ball didn't go into the basket as much as she would have liked it to. But somehow, she still found a way to get to 20 points. Her and Taylah both had nice games. Taylah did exactly what we asked her to do."
The Lady Raiders return to the State of Oklahoma on Wednesday when they head to Norman to clash with No. 12 Oklahoma. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.