Cowgirl Heroes, Panther Prowess and Sarah Jo

By Jeff Lippman - March 24, 2008

Andrea Riley may be the resident superhero of Stillwater, Okla., but Maria Cordero deserves a heroes welcome whenever the Cowgirls' dance ends as well.

But thanks very much to both players, it didn't end Monday night against Florida State.

It started with Cordero. With just under two minutes remaining in the overtime, Cordero looked visibly tired as she stumbled back onto the court after a time out. But then, moments later, from the Oklahoma State offensive corner a three-pointer was launched by none other than the embattled senior and when it swished the Cowgirls had a 70-65 lead with 1:38 to play. She would finish with just nine points, but that might be the biggest 3-pointer in Cowgirls history.

They never looked back. Of course, it did get hairy thanks to Florida State's Mara Freshour.

Freshour finished with 20 points for the Seminoles but the biggest six of the night came with under a minute remaining by way of two big 3-pointers. The first brought the 'Noles to within one at 70-69. Then, after a Megan Byford layup for the Cowgirls, Freshour hit her next to tie the score at 72 with 20 seconds remaining.

That's when Kurt Budke put the ball into the hands of his star, Riley, who made it interesting but ultimately won the game for Oklahoma State.

Riley dribbled down court looking to get her shot as the seconds ticked off the clock. With under 5 seconds to play she made her move. It was unsuccessful, but as she was trying desperately to pass the ball off to a teammate to launch the final shot a miracle happened. She was fouled by Shante Williams with .7 seconds remaining.

The diminutive Riley went to the line to shoot two. Just to make the suspense a little more stressful on Budke and all the Cowgirl fans, Riley of course missed the first free throw. But she coolly iced the second and then, just to show off, stole the FSU inbounds pass and flung the ball in the air as Oklahoma State advances to its second-ever Sweet 16.

The Cowgirls must now face LSU, who defeated Marist in a game that was closer than coach Van Chancellor would have liked, 68-49. That's no easy task, but at least for tonight, the Cowgirls should celebrate their sweet victory.

Pitt Says The Big 12 'Aint So Tough

In the first game of the second round to come to conclusion, it was also the first upset of the round of 32.

The 6-seed Pittsburgh from the Big East took the Big 12 down a peg after going an undefeated 8-0 in the first round of the Tournament by beating the 3-seed Baylor, 67-59, in Albuquerque, N.M.

Baylor led at the half, but the game was never safely in their grasp as the Panthers kept it close all night. They came out firing in the second half, starting the half on a 6-0 run. But the two teams would battle it out in a closely contested battle until, in the end, it was too much Pitt for Baylor to handle.

In the end, the Panthers were the more physical team, out-rebounding the Bears by a margin of 43-36. None of Baylor's individual stars stepped up as Rachel Allison scored 14, Danielle Wilson 15 and senior guard Angela Tisdale - who dropped 26 points in the first round - scored just 13 points.

Guard Shavonte Zellous led the way for the Panthers and came up with some huge shots down the stretch to score 19 points. Senior point guard Mallorie Winn, who is a 6-year red shirt, came up big time with some crucial free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

Marcedes Walker, an All-American candidate who struggled in the opening round, scored 17 and grabbed 9 rebounds, but fouled out with 5:28 to play.

The Panthers have proven that with their combination of speed, size and physicality, they could be a very tough out in this tournament. They'll need to be, as Stanford looms in the Sweet 16.

Cal Gets Sarah-Jo'd

George Washington had to play the 3-seed Cal in front of its own fans in the Bay Area of California. They didn't complain. Instead, they grinded out a tough game and made the Bears play to their tempo.

And when it counted in the end, their defense and especially Sarah Jo-Lawrence came up huge.

Lawrence scored 13 points on 6-of-16 shooting but hit the last two layups both coming with under 20 seconds in the game to first tie the score and then win the game at the buzzer.

After Lawrence's first lay in with 13 seconds left, Cal got the ball back. Bears coach Joanne Boyle called a timeout and on the inbounds, the Bears were called for traveling. The Colonial defense had confused them into coughing up the ball.

The second Lawrence lay in iced it as the clock hit zero.

Antelia Parrish led the way for GW with 15 points to go with 10 rebounds.

For the Bears, Ashley Walker led the way with a game-high 19 points. But Devanei Hampton, who led them in scoring in the first round, could muster just four points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field.

It wasn't the Bears night and now they are going home early. The good news in Berkeley is, their three stars, Alexis Gray-Lawson, Hampton and Walker are all just juniors and they will be back next season.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 09:03 PM on March 24, 2008

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