Traveling through one of his toughest seasons since his arrival at TCU 14 years ago, TCU women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie must have felt his collar getting tighter as he sweated through a series of buzzer-beating losses in TCU’s first Big 12 season that left his team winless in conference.
So, Wednesday night as he prepared to face No. 22 Oklahoma State at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, Mittie ditched the traditional tie and sported the mock turtleneck and blazer.
Consequently, TCU earned its first Big 12 victory over the Cowgirls in dramatic fashion, 64-63.
“I’ll be honest, I said screw it,” Mittie said. “[My ties] all lost, and I can’t afford all new ties. I used to throw them all out, but that’s when you haven’t lost many games.”
A TCU turnover with 19 seconds on the clock and the one-point TCU lead gave Oklahoma State (18-7, 7-7 in Big 12) one last chance to break the Horned Frogs’ hearts yet again this season.
Out of a timeout, freshman guard Zahna Medley allowed four seconds to run off the clock before taking TCU’s last foul available before the bonus. As time expired, junior center Kendra Suttles launched a 3-pointer for OSU that bounced off the left side of the rim and fell to the ground, giving TCU (8-17, 1-13 in Big 12) its first lucky break of the season.
“It was just nice to see the damn thing bounce out,” Mittie said with a grin.
TCU senior guard Delisa Gross led the Frogs, putting up a season-high 13 points in 26 minutes, her season-best in playing time. All superstition aside, the odds were in the Frogs’ favor as they raised their record to 16-6 when Gross scored in double figures.
It was also Gross’ layup in traffic with 1:04 left in the game that ultimately was the game-winner.
“I think coming into this game we were more focused and one of our points of emphasis was to get out running transition and to rebound, and I think we did both of those really well,” Gross said. “We got layups and we got and-ones, and we definitely hit the boards tonight.”
Just like an A-plus paper, Tuesday’s stat sheet could be pinned on the refrigerator for the excellent marks in hustle plays TCU put up for the first time in a long time this season. The Frogs outrebounded Oklahoma State 39-38, the team’s first rebounding victory since Jan. 5 against Kansas State and only their second rebounding win in conference play this season.
“I challenged the group to win the hustle plays,” Mittie said. “That’s where I haven’t felt like we haven’t won a lot of those in the games and tonight I thought we won a lot of the hustle plays and I think it shows in the effort stats with the rebounding.”
Tuesday’s victory gave TCU 18 victories against ranked opponents in school history, all with Mittie as coach. It also continued the streak of at least one win over a ranked opponent in 10 of the past 11 years.
Because of the victory, Mittie might go tie-less for the remaining four games on conference play, he said, with a “We’ll see.”