Big 12 Women’s Tournament Preview: Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia
Here is everything you need to know about Oklahoma State and West Virginia in our Cowgirls vs. Mountaineers Big 12 Tournament women’s basketball preview.
Game 3: No. 4 Oklahoma State (20-10, 10-8) vs. No. 5 West Virginia (19-10, 10-8), 11 a.m. CT, Friday, ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Season series (1-1): Oklahoma State def. West Virginia, 76-65, in Stillwater, Okla., on Feb. 7; West Virginia def. Oklahoma State, 71-67, in Morgantown, WV, on March 1.
Winner gets: the winner of Game 4 in the semifinals at noon on Saturday.
Projected starting lineups
Oklahoma State: G Naomie Alnatas, G Terryn Milton, G Claire Chastain, G Lexy Keys, F Taylen Collins
West Virginia: G Madisen Smith, G Jayla Hemingway, G JJ Quinerly, G Kyah Watson, F Kylee Blacksten.
Player to watch
F Naomie Alnatas: The Kansas City transfer followed her head coach, Jacie Hoyt, to Oklahoma State to play her senior year and earned All-Big 12 First-Team selection from both the Big 12 coaches and Heartland College Sports. She was also the HCS Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. The guard makes the offense go for the Cowgirls, as she averaged 13.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 40.7 percent from the field and nearly 80 percent from the free-throw line.
G Madisen Smith: She was one of three key players that stuck around after the Mountaineers made a coaching change, hiring Dawn Plitzuweit away from South Dakota. Smith earned All-Big 12 First Team honors from Heartland College Sports and All-Big 12 Second Team honors from the Big 12’s coaches. She’s coming off a 30-point game against Baylor and earning Big 12 Player of the Week honors. She averaged 14 points and 3.0 assists this season.
Oklahoma State made a coaching change, as the Cowgirls lured Jacie Hoyt, a former Kansas State assistant, from Kansas City to take over the program. She inherited a team that won just nine games last season and had only a few holdovers. With those holdovers she blended nearly a dozen new players and turned them into a 20-win team and a likely NCAA Tournament team. The Cowgirls made waves, beating Texas once, sweeping Baylor for the first time in nearly a decade and beating Iowa State to wrap up a six-game winning streak. The Cowgirls are entering the tournament on a three-game losing streak.
Another program with a new coach, Dawn Plitzuweit took over for Mike Carey, who retired after last season. Plitzuweit led South Dakota to the Sweet 16 last season, beating Baylor along the way. Like Hoyt, Plitzuweit had a few holdovers from the Carey era and blended them with newcomers to get hot at the right time. After treading water for most of the Big 12 schedule, the Mountaineers enter the Big 12 Tournament on a three-game winning streak, with that last win polishing off a sweep of Baylor. WVU has also won five of its last seven. A win on Friday would give the Mountaineers 20 for the season.
West Virginia 76, Oklahoma State 75. The Mountaineers are trending up and the Cowgirls are trending down. Plus, the Mountaineers are the Last Team In for the NCAA Tournament per ESPN going into the Tournament. That may motivate WVU a bit.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.