8:00 PM ET, December 4, 2007
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Two seasons ago, getting to the top 25 wasn't even a consideration for Oklahoma State. Just getting one conference win proved to be too difficult.Then Andrea Riley came to campus, and the transformation began. The lightning-fast point guard led Oklahoma State into the top 25 for the first time in 11 years, then scored 22 points to lead the Cowgirls (No. 25 AP) to an 85-39 win against Wichita State on Tuesday night. "Being ranked was one of our goals. We always thought, 'Why can't we be up there with everybody else?' We're doing good, we play hard, we've got intensity and everything," said Riley, the reigning Big 12 freshman of the year. "That wasn't our main goal this year, and we're not stopping there. It's an honor and everything, but we still want more." After going 0-16 in Big 12 play two seasons ago, the Cowgirls have back-to-back 8-0 starts for the first time in school history. From here on out, Riley and Co. have a chance to imprint themselves on the record books as the best team ever at a school without much women's basketball tradition. Riley helped the Cowgirls return to the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1996, when they were in the Top 25 for 10 straight weeks and attained the highest ranking in school history at No. 19. Oklahoma State has only been ranked in six different seasons for a total of 34 weeks, and finished in the Top 25 only twice _ at No. 25 in the 1990-91 and 1992-93 seasons. After falling out of the rankings in February 1996, they didn't return again until this week. Third-year coach Kurt Budke congratulated the team before practice Monday for ending that 11-year absence, but he's hardly impressed after coming to Stillwater from national powerhouse Louisiana Tech. "I've been in this a long time," Budke said. "It's that last poll that I like." Kiki Stephens scored 12 to lead Wichita State (3-5), which suffered its most lopsided defeat in NCAA play. It was the sixth-worst loss in school history, and the biggest blowout since a 111-57 loss to Central Missouri State on Feb. 7, 1980, in AIAW play. Danielle Green added 17 points and nine rebounds while freshman Kristin Hernandez scored 12 for Oklahoma State, which came out looking more like the squad from Budke's first season than a dominant bunch that had outscored its first seven opponents by an average of 33 points. The Cowgirls missed six of their first seven shots and committed three turnovers before Riley carved her way to the basket to lay in the Cowgirls' second basket 5:44 into the game. Oklahoma State's zone kept Wichita State from doing any better, though, and the Shockers started 1-for-9 with seven turnovers before Stephens made their second basket of the game more than 8 minutes in. The Shockers missed 19 of their first 22 shots and committed 12 turnovers to allow Oklahoma State to open a 31-9 lead before making their final three shots of the first half. Budke ripped his team at halftime for the performance. "I wouldn't be doing my job if I went in there and said, 'Hey, everything's OK and that was OK. It was just a bad half, but come out and play the second half better.' That's not the way it is," Budke said. "We weren't intense enough in the first half, we weren't sharp enough in the first half. I've got big dreams and big goals, and I want those girls to have the same dreams and goals I do." The second half left Budke more pleased. Maria Cordero and Riley hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start a 12-0 run that stretched the Cowgirls' lead to 52-21 early in the second half, and the Shockers were never again closer than 27. The lead was as much as 48 at one point. "It is the first step. We're still taking baby steps because we've got a lot of work to do, and we've got a lot of time too," Riley said. "We're not worried about little mistakes that we're making right now. We're going to correct them."
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