8:00 PM ET, February 24, 2007
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Coming from Louisiana Tech, a women's basketball powerhouse, Kurt Budke's first win against a ranked opponent at Oklahoma State wasn't all about him."I've had a couple before this. I feel good for the girls, and I feel good that it is kind of a checkmark that NCAA Tournament people look at -- that you did beat a Top 25 team," Budke said Saturday night after his Cowgirls upset Nebraska (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 25 AP) 63-60.Andrea Riley scored 17 points and Rashidat Sadiq added 16 to lead the Cowgirls (19-9, 7-8 Big 12), who surged into the lead with a 12-2 run to start the second half and never trailed again.The win was sealed when Nebraska guard Kiera Hardy's 3-pointer at the buzzer banked off the glass without hitting the rim.Riley leaped in the air and ran back toward the Cowgirls' bench. Several other players piled onto the floor at midcourt."This is just basically a blessing," Riley said. "It's just so amazing to know that we finally beat a ranked team. I got sick of seeing Oklahoma State almost beat this team, almost beat that team."Budke grabbed a microphone and thanked fans at the team's last regular-season home game before saying: "This might be our last home game because I'll tell you something: This team's going to the NCAA Tournament.""We're building a program here, and I want them to feel like they know their coach and they know the passion that their coach has," Budke said afterward. "That's all I wanted to get across, if they didn't know that already,"Budke, who came to the Cowgirls for the 2005-06 season, said that promise still requires another win Wednesday in their regular-season finale at Kansas State."I think if we can put 40 more minutes together and get one more win, I don't think there's any question this team deserves to be in the NCAA tournament," Budke said."You go 8-8 in this league, there's no way in the world they can deny you," he added. "Not in this league. Not in the Big 12."It was Nebraska's fourth straight defeat since gaining a share of the Big 12 lead."At this time of year, there are so many teams that need to win. The last few opponents we've had, they've had to win to keep their season alive," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "But we needed to win tonight, too."The Cornhuskers (21-8, 9-6) can clinch a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament with a win Tuesday against Colorado.Danielle Green finished with 13 points and Dominique Chism added a career-high 14 rebounds for the Cowgirls, who got their first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 3 Texas Tech 88-87 in double overtime on Jan. 24, 2004.Hardy, who had a season-high six 3-pointers, and Kelsey Griffin each scored 18 points to lead Nebraska.The Huskers led 24-18 at halftime after holding the Cowgirls to 7-for-28 shooting, but Oklahoma State started the second half on a 12-2 run to take a 32-26 lead on Sadiq's layup.Riley pushed the lead to seven with a layup before Hardy hit three 3-pointers to get the Huskers back within 46-44.Riley answered with a 3, and the Cowgirls led by six before Griffin scored four consecutive points off offensive rebounds to cut the deficit to 55-53. Hardy had a chance to tie it but missed the front end of a one-and-one on the Huskers' next possession.Green scored inside for the Cowgirls, and Sadiq's jumper in the lane made it 59-53.Nebraska got within 62-60 when Jelena Spiric stole an ill-advised, cross-court pass from Sadiq and set up Danielle Page for a layup with 24.8 seconds left.Riley hit 1 of 2 free throws at the other end, and Nebraska had one last chance after calling timeout when Hardy was trapped with 8.5 seconds left.But Hardy was covered by three Cowgirls defenders, and her shot didn't have a chance. The celebration began immediately."It's all about the girls. It's all about the girls and their success and their memories of their time at Oklahoma State," Budke said. "I've said it before to my team: `I've won enough games in my life. This is about you guys.'"Ten years from now, that'll be a great memory, won't it?"
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