January 25 – Jacie Hoyt has come to appreciate nights like these. They are earned, never given.
In her first season at the helm of the Oklahoma State women’s basketball program, Hoyt’s first week of Big 12 Conference play featured back-to-back losses before responding with a three-game winning streak.
And the Cowgirls also snapped another losing skid Wednesday night, defeating Kansas State 82-74 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I actually threw the basketball away from my first win I ever got,” Hoyt said, reminiscing about his days in Kansas City. “I threw it away because I thought the team we beat was terrible.
“But I’ve come to realize how hard it really is to win and I appreciate every win no matter who it is now.”
Hoyt and the Cowgirls (14-6, 4-4 Big 12) entered their second meeting with the Wildcats (13-8, 2-6 Big 12) on the heels of two straight losses on the road to then-No. 12 Iowa State and then No. 14 Oklahoma.
But OSU was able to shake off its recent woes and get back on track with a win that helped them avoid their longest losing streak in league play. It also marked the Cowgirls’ first win over the Wildcats in four tries, the most recent being a 59-46 triumph on February 17, 2021.
“It wasn’t a pretty win. I wish we would have finished it just a little bit stronger,” Hoyt said. “But at the end of the day, it’s really hard to win — it’s really hard in this conference. I’ll take it all day.”
The Cowgirls were in position to win each of the previous two outings. They led both the Cyclones and Sooners with five minutes to play before their upset hopes faded down the stretch. and it seemed as if that might be the case against the Wildcats as well.
K-State got within 5 points before OSU created separation with lockdown defense and went 10 of 15 from the free throw line over the final four minutes.
Fifth-year guards Naomie Alnatas and Terryn Milton paced the Cowgirls, scoring 17 points apiece. For Milton, that was nearly double her season average of 9.2 points per game and matched a season high she first posted against Florida State in late November.
And for Alnatas it ended a slump of two games. Both Iowa State and Oklahoma emphasized limiting her production, and both did so effectively. She scored 16 points in the previous two games combined.
But just how nice was it for the Cowgirls’ scorer to get back on track?
“Really nice,” Alnatas said in the aftermath of the win. “There are no other words.”
Without sophomore Anna Gret Asi, OSU’s first guard off the bench, the Cowgirls needed others to step up. That’s exactly what junior forward Taylen Collins and junior forward Lior Garzon did.
Collins bounced back from an unwelcome performance against Oklahoma, one that saw her pick up a foul five minutes into action. and while she picked up four fouls against the Wildcats, she returned to her usual self. The Muldrow native contributed 16 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Garzon, who has made the most 3-pointers so far for OSU, helped Alnatas fill the basket beyond the arc. Those two combined to go 8 of 19 from deep (Alnatas, 5 of 12; Garzon, 3 of 7).
“One man down — first of all, the next man up. But (Hoyt) asked each one of us to give a little bit more,” Alnatas said. “It doesn’t come from just one person anymore, and I think that’s exactly what we did tonight.”
OSU’s production wasn’t even close to coming from one person. The Cowgirls were – and in the past have been – at their best when sharing the basketball. Hoyt knows that. So does Alnatas.
As Alnatas began to score, she took advantage of the defensive attention and began distributing the ball. She dished out seven assists, as did Milton, who found herself in a similar situation as she started early and often from the midrange.
The Cowgirls made 27 baskets against the Wildcats, and 22 of them came off the back of an assist.
“Everything changes. I mean, we have so many weapons,” Hoyt said. “We feel like if we can get a paint touch, and kick out 3s, that’s when we’re at our best. Our kids were exceptional at that.”
It won’t be long for Hoyt and Co. before their revenge tour continues.
They have reached the point in their Big 12 slate where they will face conference foes for the second time, and that will continue when OSU heads for a rematch with Texas on Saturday in Austin.
Follow News Press sports reporter Jon Walker on Twitter @ByJonWalker for updates on Oklahoma State athletics, Stillwater High sports and more.