LUBBOCK, Texas -- In front of the second-largest home crowd of the season (4,910), and despite cutting a 12-point deficit to just one with 2:22 to play, the Texas Tech Lady Raiders fell 57-55 to the Oklahoma State Cowgirls Saturday night at United Supermarkets Arena.
In defeat, senior Lexy Hightower had 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, while Vivian Gray added nine points and eight rebounds.
The difference in the contest were Texas Tech's (8-6, 1-2 Big 12) 19 turnovers that Oklahoma State (6-6, 1-2 Big 12) turned into 21 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Behind a jumper from Hightower and a pair of layups from Khadija Faye and Ella Tofaeono, the Lady Raiders enjoyed an early 8-6 lead with 3:55 left in the first quarter.
After OSU scored back-to-back buckets to take a 10-8 lead, Faye and the Lady Raiders tied the game at 10 with 1:55 to play.
OSU used a Lexy Keys triple to close the first period on 6-2 run that gave the visitors a 16-10 advantage after one. Keys finished with 17 clutch points on 5-of-10 shooting from deep.
In the second period, OSU scored 11 of the first 20 points to take a 28-19 lead with 5:36 to play in the first half.
Tech used a jumper from Rhyle McKinney and a triple from Hightower to close to within 30-24 with 3:30 to play, but OSU used a triple from Keys to close the half on a 5-1 run that gave them a 35-25 lead at the break.
After the break, Tech used a mid-range jumper from Gray and a triple from Bryn Gerlich to cut the OSU lead to just 35-30. The mini 5-0 run forced an OSU timeout.
Tech forced a missed shot out of the timeout, but missed a shot on its next possession.
On the ensuing OSU possession, Keys hit another triple that sparked a 7-0 run that gave her team a game-high 42-30 lead with 5:09 to play.
Tech would answer with the next four, but OSU used one last triple to enjoy a 45-36 lead after three.
Like they did in the third, Tech opened the fourth quarter strong, using back-to-back buckets from Gray to draw to within 45-40.
After five of the next seven points went to the Cowgirls, Tech dug in on the defensive end, using a 5-0 run over the next three minutes to get to within 50-49 with 2:22 remaining.
With the crowd roaring and all of the momentum and following a timeout, Tech forced a turnover from the Cowgirls, before turning the ball right back over on an errant pass.
Oklahoma State regained possession and used a jumper from fields and a pair of free throws from N'Yah Boyd over the next 90 seconds to take a 54-49 lead.
After a Texas Tech timeout, Hightower nailed a triple that cut the OSU lead 54-52 with 40 seconds to play.
On the ensuing OSU possession, Tech looked to have had another defensive stop, but the Cowgirls used one last 3-pointer from Keys with just one second on the shot clock. The clutch shot gave the Cowgirls a 57-52 lead with nine seconds to play.
Following a timeout, Hightower hit her fourth triple to bring the Lady Raiders to within 57-55 with four seconds to play.
On the ensuing OSU possession, the Cowgirls threw the ball out of bounds with .7 seconds to play.
Needing a two to tie, Tech found Taylah Thomas underneath the basket, but her shot from 12 feet out was blocked by Kassidy De Lapp. The block sealed the 57-55 victory for OSU.
COACH SPEAK (HC KRISTA GERLICH):
"We talked a lot the last two days about how are we going to respond and handle success. We didn't start the game off well at all, and it took us a long time to figure out what we were trying to do. In the second half we responded and adjusted in some areas, but we had some critical mistakes late that prevented us from winning the ballgame. But I'm always proud of our kids effort, and the way we stayed in the game and continued to fight. Our fight gave us a chance to win, but had we executed better early, we wouldn't have been in the situation we were in down the stretch. Lexy gave us a chance and kept us in the ballgame in both the first and second half. She hit some really big shots. It's unfortunate that we didn't get it done tonight for our fans. We're hurting in the locker room right now, but as a group, we need to learn how hard it is to win day-in-and-day-out in the Big 12 because every opponent is tough."
On her team's 19 turnovers:
"In the first half we not only turned that ball over, but we also lost them in transition a few times. So those turnovers led to some key transition buckets from them. We talked about how they struggle scoring in the half court and need to score some easy buckets off transition opportunities. Our turnovers really fed their offense tonight."
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
• Hightower's nearly eclipsed her career high tonight. She scored 17 points against New Mexico back on Nov. 28.
• After shooting just 5-for-18 in the first period, Tech shot a much better 17-for-34 (50.0 percent) from the field in the final three periods.
• Hightower made all four of her attempts from three.
• Tech outscored OSU 22-14 in the paint and 12-0 off second chance points.
• The Lady Raiders out rebounded OSU 42-25 Saturday night.
• Tech has now lost three straight games at United Supermarkets Arena dating back to Dec. 2 against Georgia.
• OSU had 21 points on Tech's 19 turnovers. The Lady Raiders turned OSU's 10 turnovers into just eight points.
Tech hits the road for a Wednesday night contest at West Virginia. Tip-off from the WVU Coliseum is set for 6 p.m. (CT).