ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Oklahoma State's women's basketball team used a strong second half to defeat New Mexico, 70-56, during the semifinal round of the preseason WNIT on Wednesday in front of 6,828 fans inside The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Cowgirls (3-0) struggled offensively in the first half, but were able to hang around in large part due to senior Tegan Cunningham. The Melbourne, Australia native knocked down all five of her shots, including a 4-of-4 performance from behind the 3-point line on her way to 16 points. Cunningham scored 10-straight points during one stretch to keep the Cowgirls within striking distance of the Lobos (2-1).
"I was just feeling it," Cunningham said. "I have been working on my 3-point shot and somebody needed to step up for us. Luck was on my side tonight."
"It is a hard gym to play in with all of those fans behind them. It is called The Pit for a reason."
Cunningham finished the contest with 20 points on just nine shots and pulled eight rebounds.
The Cowgirls shot just 31 percent in the first half, making 10 of their 31 shots, but hit 5-of-10 from beyond the arc to take a 34-33 lead at the half. OSU stepped up defensively down the stretch to hold the Lobos without a point for the final 5:18 of the half.
"The only way to come in here and win is with great defense and we did a good job of keeping our hands off them," Cowgirl head coach Kurt Budke said. "Everybody had their moments tonight and they are all taking their turn."
"This is a tough place to play and this is an exciting win for us."
After being held to an 0-for-8 performance and just four points in the first half, senior Andrea Riley stepped up after the break. After the Lobos went on a 16-4 run to take a 50-47 lead, the Dallas, Texas native hit back-to-back layups to give OSU the lead for good with 7:24 remaining. Riley finished the half with 18 points on her way to a game-high 22 on the night.
The Cowgirls continued to clamp down defensively, holding the Lobos to a 25 percent shooting effort and outscoring the home team 36-23 over the final 20 minutes.
OSU will take on Ohio State in Columbus on Sunday. The championship tipoff is set for 1 p.m.