STILLWATER, Okla. -- Andrea Riley wiped away a few tears as her parents escorted her across the floor in what would be her final game at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Then the nation's fifth-leading scorer went to work, putting on what's become a typical performance in her time with No. 20 Oklahoma State.
Riley scored 32 points, fellow senior Tegan Cunningham added 20 and the Cowgirls beat No. 13 Iowa State 78-70 on Wednesday night for their third straight win.
Cunningham said she tried to be the "strong one" during a Senior Night ceremony before the game. She joined the program last season as a junior college transfer, a year after Oklahoma State went winless in Big 12 play.
"It's been a little more rough seeing everything going through four years but it was fun," Riley said. "It has been a journey, it has been magnificent through everything and I wouldn't trade it for anything else."
The senior tandem has been a force for Oklahoma State (21-8, 9-6 Big 12) as the program reached the top 10 for the first time, then lost five in a row before the current winning streak.
After the Cyclones eliminated a 10-point halftime deficit, the duo helped make sure they'd go out on a winning note.
Riley made a jumper from the right elbow and then set up Cunningham for a 3-pointer in the left corner as the Cowgirls used a late 7-0 run to put the game away.
"Senior Night is a huge, emotional night, and I've seen it over years that you're either going to play lights-out or you're going to barely get through it and find a way to win, and that's kind of what we did tonight," OSU coach Kurt Budke said.
Kelsey Bolte made six 3-pointers and scored 20 points to lead Iowa State (22-6, 10-5), which could have wrapped up the No. 2 seed in next week's Big 12 tournament with a victory.
The Cyclones played without starting point guard Alison Lacey, their top scorer and the nation's leader in assist-to-turnover ratio. She did not travel with the team because of an illness.
"We just decided in her best interests and our team's long-term best interests that traveling wasn't a good idea," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "We'll see how she feels tomorrow, but there's no way she could have played tonight."
Iowa State fought back from a 10-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 57 on a pair of free throws by Chelsea Poppens with 8:59 to play but then went 4 minutes without scoring as Oklahoma State rebuilt its lead. The Cyclones also failed to score for the final 6:50 of the first half as the Cowgirls went on a 12-0 run to lead 38-28 at halftime.
"At the end of the first half and we got the game tied, there were times when you could tell we were looking for someone on the floor to take over and not necessarily score but make a play," Fennelly said. "We get it to 57-all, we have three straight turnovers and that's the game."
After Megan Byford blocked a shot by Amanda Zimmerman that would have put the Cyclones ahead, Lakyn Garrison hit a 3-pointer to put OSU back on top. Riley followed with a fast-break layup off an ill-advised crosscourt pass, and the Cowgirls would lead 65-57 after a run of eight straight points.
Bolte's sixth 3-pointer got Iowa State within 65-62 with 4:07 remaining, but Oklahoma State scored the next seven points to put the game out of reach.
"We just had to gut it out," Riley said. "It wasn't pretty but we just did what we had to do,"
Riley cried after being introduced in the pregame ceremony, when she was honored as the team's career scoring leader. After the game, she thanked fans for their support and then finished her speech with this: "I don't want to cry, so I just want to say that we love you guys and we want y'all to come out and support us [at the Big 12 tournament] in Kansas City because we're going to get OU."
The Cowgirls play their regular season finale on Saturday at Oklahoma.
Anna Prins added 12 points, and Whitney Williams and Poppens scored 11 apiece for the Cyclones, who had won 11 of their previous 14 games against OSU. Poppens also had a career-high 17 rebounds. Williams didn't start but had a career-best seven assists after she shifted over to point guard with Chassidy Cole ineffective in Lacey's place.
Bolte attempted a career-high 21 shots and was 6-for-17 from 3-point range.
"Kelsey's got the green light to shoot it anytime she wants to, and all of our kids can hit it," Fennelly said. "It's just that we had a little trouble when they just totally at times did not guard Denae [Stuckey] or Chassidy Cole. It clogs it up and it makes it hard to make that next pass.
"It's hard to win at this level sometimes when you don't have everyone on the court that at least has a chance to hit a shot once in a while."