STILLWATER, Okla. — Jaden Hobbs turned and roared to her teammates after they set her up in yet another good position.
Hobbs had her first double-digit outing of the season as Oklahoma State rode the success of the 3-point shot after it nearly killed the Cowgirls in the first half.
After leading for just two minutes before halftime against red-hot Samford, halftime adjustments clamped down defensively on the Bulldogs as OSU won 82-62 Wednesday inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Hobbs, an Alva native, was one of four Cowgirls to score double digits in a game coach Jim Littell described as a microcosm of how the OSU season has gone so far.
After falling behind by 11 points to the Bulldogs (2-4) in the first quarter, the Cowgirls waited out Samford’s nearly perfect 3-point shooting to make it just a one-point deficit at halftime.
The Bulldogs went 6-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first quarter and finished 8-12 in the half. That's from a team that averaged only around five a game.
“We were getting caught on little things,” Littell said. “There is a terminology called jumping to the ball so you don’t get screened. We were getting back picked in the first half, having to help off for quite a while and they were just popping to the 3-line.”
The halftime adjustments ultimately paid off as OSU took advantage of sloppy shooting from the Bulldogs – who airballed a 3-pointer to start the half. They finished with only four made long balls in the second half.
Senior LaTashia Jones said with the rotations the coaches were running, as well as just playing a more frenetic defense wore down the Bulldogs and led to the Cowgirls (4-0) getting better shots on the fast break.
“We talked about that in the locker room, too, in stopping their 3s because they were killing us,” Jones said. “We talked about switching things up and made some halftime adjustments.
“… Coach said in the locker room that we have to start playing like us. We played good defense to lead to great offense.”
Jones, a 6-foot-2 forward from Leavenworth, Kansas, once again dominated the boards despite being undersized. She finished with her third double-double of the season on 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cowgirls’ work on the boards – an advantage of 16 – paved the way for better shots and ultimately some of the long balls from players such as Hobbs and Braxtin Miller.
Hobbs has been replaced in the starting lineup by redshirt freshman Ja’Mee Asberry, so to finally see some shots fall that hadn’t been in the first three games helped her confidence.
“I feel good and feel like I finally got rolling a little bit,” Hobbs said. “My teammates did a good job of putting me into good positions and finding me when I was open. That is what gets me going is them doing that for me and that is how I start flowing so the credit goes to them, they did a great job.”
The work from the guards, as well as sophomore wing Vivian Gray finding her flow from mid-range is one of the positives Littell pointed to in the growth that he has seen from the group so far.
“They continue to get better,” Littell said. “When they realize what we are trying to accomplish offensively, they are going to get better on it. They have a skill set to them and a talent that allows them to be successful at this level. I think a lot of it comes to getting minutes together at this level. Vivian looks more relaxed than she did the time before. She is wound tight at times and I thought she looked a lot more relaxed. She does a lot of little things that help us.”
Gray, an Argyle, Texas, native, and the Dayton, Ohio, product Miller have been a good tandem for the Cowgirls so far and it showed as the two combined for 35 points and 11 assists.
Littell is trying to get consistent production from each position and he feels it is coming together as even with freshman Kassidy De Lapp battling injuries, junior Mariam Gnanou picked up the slack in the post with eight points and seven rebounds.
Despite a couple of close calls, including the first half against the Bulldogs, the Cowgirls are unbeaten heading into their first road game Tuesday at Wichita State. Littell said there are positives, but also plenty of negatives to work out.
“We have a lot that we need to work on between now and then, but it is going to get better and we have to become a better practice team,” Littell said. “Once we become more consistent, there will be a lot more upside and positive things happen to you. I think the major factor in confidence is being consistent and good on a daily basis so we have to take a high pride level in how we practice and if they do that, you will continue to see the kids grow.”