Cowgirls look to use home court advantage in GIA's last Bedlam game

Feb. 2—The Oklahoma State and Oklahoma women's basketball teams will meet in Gallagher-Iba Arena Saturday for potentially the last time in a long time, and their arrows are pointing in opposite directions.

Following a home win over No. 2 Kansas State on Wednesday, the Sooners (14-6) will aim to keep their five-game winning streak going. Just two weeks ago, the Cowgirls (11-10) won their fourth of five games but have since lost four in a row.

OSU will need a win to prevent the losing streak from growing to six or seven games, as its next two opponents following the Bedlam game are K-State and Texas Tech on the road, which have a combined 25-1 record in their buildings.

The Cowgirls now face an uphill climb to re-enter NCAA Tournament contention, as they have fallen completely out of ESPN's Bracketology as of Friday.

But the team feels that if any game can turn its fortunes around, it will be an emotional one in front of a packed Gallagher-Iba Arena.

"We saw Bedlam during football and it was crazy, so I'm just excited to see the crowd we get," freshman Stailee Heard said. "I just can't wait."

The Bedlam football game was two days before the women's basketball season began. Coach Jacie Hoyt mentioned it as inspiration in postgame comments to the crowd after a 100-59 win over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

She reiterated that to the media during a Thursday press conference.

"I think the best teacher that we had was the football game because it was here and, of course, went really well for us, and the majority of our kids were at that game," Hoyt said. "We practiced the next Monday, and we actually started off practice just by showing the football stadium after the win and just explaining to them how much it really means."

Heard was among the few players who didn't need an explanation. She grew up in Sapulpa, her dad's side of the family is from Oklahoma City and her mom's side is from Shawnee.

As a neutral observer of the rivalry for most of her life, Heard said she's in disbelief that it could be the last Bedlam game ever played in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

"It seems unreal," Heard said. "I wish it wasn't the last because, coming in as a freshman, I feel like I would've liked Bedlam through my time here, but I'm glad I get to experience it for one year at least."

Hoyt said the team hasn't given much thought to the future of the series.

"We, as a team, have gone through so much this season ... so it's really just been completely focused on us," Hoyt said. "We feel that if we're at our best and we can get healthy, then we can compete with the best of the best and just take it one game at a time, and Saturday will be no different."

If OSU is to earn its first win over OU since 2021, the Cowgirls will need to make the most of their opportunities. The Sooners have held seven of their nine Big 12 opponents to 65 points or fewer and average a league-low 12.1 turnovers per game.

In addition, four of the five OSU starters play at least 30 minutes per game, none at OU do.

So how do the Cowgirls battle fatigue?

"We don't. We're not going to be fresh. This is our third game in a week, playing a rotation of six to seven kids," Hoyt said. "At the end of the day, this is a team that goes off of heart and toughness and just resilience, and it just has to continue to be that for us."

More: Lexy Keys returns to Stillwater

Senior guard Lexy Keys will be the latest Sooner to play against her former school in a Bedlam game, joining Trace Ford in football and Kelly Maxwell in softball in early May.

Keys averaged 9.0 points over 88 games played for the Cowgirls.

She said she expects a positive reception but understands it may not be that way given her transfer to the school OSU fans hate the most.