March 12, 2023 

Big 12 Tournament Day 3: Who can punch their ticket to the title game?

The top four seeds competed in Day 3 of the Big 12 Tournament.

KANSAS CITY – Day 3 at the Big 12 Tournament had a different feel to it. Knowing that if you win you are in the championship game left a different tension in the air.

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The top-4 seeds were the final four teams left in the tournament. No. 4 Oklahoma State vs No. 1 Texas would lead off the day. 

Oklahoma State vs Texas

In the game against Kansas State, Texas’ offense looked bad to start the game. As a reminder, they scored only six points in that first quarter.

In this game, they looked much better. Both Oklahoma State and Texas got going offensively in a quick manner. Texas’ Shay Holle led all scorers with seven points at the end of the first.

The Cowgirls came out firing from deep. They shot 4-for-9 from three in this quarter and it allowed them to keep pace with the Longhorns. They also had five turnovers in the quarter that set them back. Texas led 19-15 at the end of the quarter. 

In the second quarter, the philosophy changed for the Cowgirls on offense. Rather than living and dying by the three, they only attempted one in the second quarter. Something that stayed the same though was the turnover rate. The Cowgirls ended the first half with 11 turnovers which heavily stifled offensive momentum.

Texas is known for how much size it has on the rest of the Big 12 and it showed in this first half. The second chance points became huge as Texas would have 11 compared to zero from Oklahoma State.

While the score at the half was 34-29, it felt like that five-point margin would be the wall that Oklahoma State couldn’t break down. A big reason for that was the points off turnovers from across the entirety of the game not allowing for any OSU offense fluidity to be established. Texas guard Rori Harmon spoke on those points after the game.

“That’s one of the things we do focus on here. We like to run the floor a lot, so if we get a turnover we need to run,” Harmon said. “It happened a few times where Shaylee (Gonzales), she is already out there, and after we turn them over, those are the points we need. I guess it was 21-7, so those are the points that make the difference in the game sometimes.”

Those points off turnovers would be arguably the most important stat that would lead Texas to a 64-57 win and a spot in the Championship game.

While Texas Head Coach Vic Schaefer didn’t know what team he would be facing at the time, he did give his thoughts on both Oklahoma and Iowa State after the game.

“It’s a real easy scouting report in my mind. They can all shoot it,” Schaefer said. “You better get out there and try to take that away, because that’s what they do. That crowd today for both teams, it’s going to be real loud when somebody makes a three.”

Oklahoma vs Iowa State

The first important moment of this game came during warmups when Oklahoma guard Ana Llanusa had to be helped off the floor due to what looked like some type of lower leg injury. She powered through and played in this game. Sooners coach Jennie Baranczyk spoke about the injury after the game. 

“Yeah, she hurt her ankle, and, you know, that’s part of it,” Baranczyk said. “Then she played, and hopefully she’ll be okay tomorrow. We evaluated her. We had doctors evaluating her so it was her decision, but I don’t know exactly what happened. I wasn’t out there.”

Once the game got going, so did Oklahoma’s Madi Williams. Against TCU she looked hesitant after coming back from a knee injury that she suffered in the last game of the regular season. Against Iowa State, she looked like Madi Williams again. She scored six points of her own in the first quarter. 

Both of the matchups in the regular season were fast-paced and electric, this game lived up to that billing. In the first quarter alone there were a combined 19 threes attempted. Schaefer’s scouting report above was ringing true. 

By the time the first half would come to an end, it would be the Ashley Joens show. In the first half, Iowa State star had 12 points.

She would also make history in this game joining Baylor alum Brittney Griner as the only two players in Big 12 history to reach 3,000 career points. 

“I think there are a lot of things Ashley has done, a lot of awards. She doesn’t like to talk about it. It’s very uncomfortable,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “And I think someone told me there are 14. She got the COVID year, yeah, she did, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that you are on a list of 14 people to ever do something. That’s pretty impressive, and that list is some of the greatest players to ever play the game.”

One player that was huge for Iowa State throughout this entire game was Nyamer Diew. She not only brought a ton of energy to the court but was a factor in spacing the floor for the Cyclones. Diew shot 4-for-6 from deep and scored a total of 19 points on the day.

While Ashley Joens did lead all scorers with 22, the balanced Cyclone scoring attack made it so hard for the Sooners on defense. Whether it was Diew with 19 or Lexi Donarski with 20, Oklahoma could not stop the bleeding.

That scoring allowed the Cyclones to win 82-72 and punch their ticket to the Big 12 Tournament Championship game with Texas.

What’s on deck?

Texas is a team that will bully you as much as they can. They want to force you into turnovers and score off of those. Luckily for the Cyclones, Ashley Joens often invites that contact when she has the ball. They also have guards capable of handling that pressure on the perimeter. These two teams split their games in the regular season and it projects to be a tough game for both teams, but an exciting one for fans as they close out the Big 12 Tournament.

Written by Tyler DeLuca

Tyler DeLuca has been contributing to The Next team since May 2022. Tyler currently is the Big 12 beat writer for The Next. Tyler's work is also featured on Twitter with The Committee, hosting the "Art of the Paint" podcast and on Gameday U Hoops throughout the college season.

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