Oklahoma State won the postseason Women's National Invitational Tournament this afternoon with a hard-fought 75-68 victory over James Madison at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. It is the first WNIT championship for Oklahoma State, and just the second for any Big-12 team since Kansas State took home the hardware in 2006.
Though OSU is now 11-4 in WNIT play, prior to this season they had advanced no farther than the quarterfinals (2001). Last season ended in the WNIT second round.
With the win, the Cowgirls, who opened their season under a pall of sorrow with the tragic deaths of head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna died in a plane crash while on a recruiting trip on November 17, 2011. Assistant coach Jim Littell found himself suddenly thrust into the head coaching role, and somewhere within themselves, he and the team found the fortitude to play through their grief, battling their way to a 22-12 overall record, 8-10 in the tough Big 12, and now past a host of solid WNIT opponents to the championship, with a courage Budke and Serna would surely have applauded.
The Dukes certainly have nothing to hang their heads about. They, too, beat some excellent teams, including, most recently, a thrilling 74-71 semifinal victory over Syracuse, to reach center stage. James Madison was at some disadvantage with the game being played on Oklahoma State's gave the Cowgirls all they could handle for much of the title match and because of their considerable three-point shooting prowess, remained very much in contention down to the wire.
The Dukes finish their season at 29-8 overall, 14-4 in the Colonial Athletic Conference, their 29 wins a school record.
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- James Madison, Virginia Commonwealth, Oklahoma State, and four others advance to Sweet Sixteen of WNIT Sunday
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