Gina Mizell of the Oklahoman reported in her recap of Oklahoma State's 69-66 overtime loss to Baylor yesterday that coach Jim Littell decided not to foul when up three at the end of regulation to avoid a "nightmare scenario".
Unfortunately, what unfolded ended up being a disastrously heartbreaking finish to a hard-fought game...in both regulation and overtime.
With OSU choosing not to foul at the end of regulation, a slow rotation allowed Mackenzie Robertson to tie the game with a fifth three. With the game tied and the final seconds of regulation ticking away, star point guard Tiffany Bias missed a fast break layup that would've sealed a win. With the game knotted at 66 with just under 30 seconds left in overtime, OSU botched their set play after letting the clock wind down and only managed a rushed three by Kendra Suttles as the shot clock was about to expire.
Naturally, Baylor superstar Odyssey Sims managed to get the rebound and race the other way for a transition layup and a free throw. After Sims made the free throw to put the Lady Bears up three, it was Sims who sealed the deal on the outcome by stealing the ball from Bias.
Entering the game, the marquee matchup was clearly Bias and Sims, two Lieberman Award candidates who will likely hear their names called at some point in the 2014 WNBA Draft. In the final analysis, it was Sims who ended up carrying the day.
Highlights of Baylor's win at Oklahoma State (via Baylor Athletics).
We've discussed Sims a number of times around here and yesterday's game would probably reinforce whatever you believed about her going in: she was inefficient as a distributor and scorer and forced some shots; her inefficiency could easily be explained by the combination of the defense's approach to her and her team's insistence on looking for her on almost every possession.
But for now let's focus on Bias who did manage to generate some positive news: with her five assists, she has tied Andrea Riley as the program's all-time assist leader. And as described by Tony Adame of the Wichita Eagle in advance of the Baylor game, that has people around the program thinking that Bias will be OSU's third first round pick in the WNBA draft in four years.
On defense, she’s just as good.
"What she’s done for Oklahoma State has been unbelievable, she’s been the face of the program for four years," said Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell, a Burden native... "We believe she’ll be a first-round pick in the WNBA Draft. We believe she can make a lot of money there and overseas and in endorsements. She’s the definition of a great point guard because she gets assists, scores when she has to, and makes everyone around her better. But that’s not all that makes her special. We’ve all gone through some tough things here and she’s handled it the way she’s handled everything in her life, with class and dignity and a resolve that says she will never quit. She’ll never back down."
Adame's point about defense can't be emphasized enough after Bias' performance against Baylor. As noted by Robert Whetsell of SB Nation's Cowboys Ride for Free in his post-game analysis, Sims didn't score in the second half of regulation; part of that was certainly the frustration of facing another 40 minutes of junk defenses, but it was Bias who was largely responsible for denying Sims the ball and making her work for every look she got.
Bias' strong start to the season
Bias stood out as a 2014 WNBA Draft prospect early in the season for dramatically improved efficiency as a distributor and an impressive steal rate.
It's difficult to quantify a player's defensive impact, but Bias' consistent energy on that end of the court is a large part of what makes OSU the best defensive team in the Big XII in terms of points allowed per possession, including the conference's lowest 3-point and free throw rates which are both impacted by perimeter defense (via WBBState.com).
However, we can quantify her effectiveness as a college point guard and WNBA point guard prospect, beginning with the assist record that she'll likely own early in OSU's next game.
Among the nation's active seniors (i.e. omitting Duke's Chelsea Gray) at major conference programs, Bias leads the way with 6.6 assists per game on an strong pure point rating of 3.91 - for those that have watched her play, it probably goes without saying that she plays with far more of a distributor's mentality than Riley ever did. Yet as a WNBA prospect, it's interesting to note that Bias isn't exactly a pure distributor: her usage rate of 22.54% is rather high for a point guard and she leads her team in scoring. And that's actually a good thing: Bias' ability to get to the line at a high rate and create for herself is valuable.
The challenge confronting Bias as a first round prospect is that she's a 5-foot-6 scoring point guard with a borderline scoring efficiency, with her struggles to finish around the basket reflected in those unfortunate moments at the end of regulation. On the bright side, former Big XII point guard Angel Goodrich is an example of a smaller college point guard who contributed to a roster despite low scoring efficiency numbers - Goodrich earned starts for the Tulsa Shock over women's basketball superstar Skylar Diggins with her ability to effectively direct an offense. But Goodrich's scoring efficiency and size is undoubtedly what caused her to fall to the third round last year; with the number of guards available in the 2014 draft, Bias could face a similar fate despite being one of the nation's top college point guards.
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