By NICK SNOW
STILLWATER — Trailing early in the first half to Texas-Pan American, Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Jim Littell was looking for some sort of spark to get his team going.
Littell got that spark from an unexpected source.
Junior Kendra Suttles may have finished with only 10 points and five rebounds, but it was her lift in the first half that helped propel the Cowgirls to a 96-42 win over the Broncs Tuesday in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“(Suttles) has an unbelievable skill set to her,” Littell said. “She’s crafty inside. She doesn’t jump very high, but she’s crafty inside. ... She really understands our offense as well as anybody that we have. She’s a difference maker for us because she does have such a unique skill set to our game.
“I really think Kendra has grown up a lot and really enjoys playing the game. She’s very unselfish and she gets probably more satisfaction out of making a good assist than she does making a basket. I just think that she’s having a lot of fun right now. She’s enjoying the game and she’s playing really well. She had three assists, 10 (points) and five (rebounds), that’s a good night.”
Seven players reached double figures for the Cowgirls (4-0), who shot 63.6 percent in the first half en route to a 49-16 halftime lead.
Liz Donohoe led all Cowgirls scorers with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Tiffany Bias chipped in 15 points and eight assists and Toni Young added 13 points and eight rebounds.
“It shows that we’re an all-around team that has a lot of scorers that can put the ball up and can get to the rim,” Bias said. “I think we’re a very deadly team this year. We share the ball well and we’re shooting well at this point of the year. That really shows with all the people in double figures and to have seven people in double figures, that’s pretty good.”
But it was the defense that led Oklahoma State in the first half. The Cowgirls held the Broncs (2-3) scoreless for nearly 10 minutes, forcing Texas-Pan American to turn the ball over 13 times in the first half.
“We scored a lot of points because I think we came down and turned it over the first three possessions down court and didn’t get a shot,” Littell said. “We hadn’t scored many points in the first three or four minutes, but then we got into a pretty good flow. It wasn’t just one person scoring, it was a lot of people scoring. And we defended, too. We did play awful well from about the 15 minute mark until halftime.”
Oklahoma State kept the pressure on Texas-Pan American in the second half, holding the Broncs to 27.1 percent from the field for the game. Using a zone defense, the Cowgirls were able to expand their lead to 59 with 5:42 left in the game before the Broncs hit a trio of 3-pointers to bring close the gap.
They’re hard to guard because they put four little guards out there that just lower their head and drive,” Littell said. “The dribble-drive in my opinion is the hardest thing to guard, so we went to some zone and just didn’t fight it. I didn’t want to have them at the foul line all night long, but I thought we came back and played better in the second half.”
With the rest of the week off before playing Texas State next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena, Young said there are some things the Cowgirls need to work on before taking on the Bobcats.
“We need to get down on defense,” Young said. “(Littell) has really emphasized coming out right at the beginning because you can lose the game in the first five minutes. We came out a little soft, but after we got that good talking we straightened up fast. We just have to make sure we come out ready to go in the next game.”
Nick Snow is a sports reporter for The Stillwater NewsPress.