Saturday started well enough for Kansas University women's basketball coach Marian Washington.
She exchanged laughs and hugs with former players at the team's annual alumnae game during the morning.
But by late afternoon, the same look of disappointment that has frequented Washington's face the majority of this season reflected what the Allen Fieldhouse scoreboard displayed: a 73-48 loss to Oklahoma State.
"I thought they were really physical, and we didn't respond," said Washington, whose team saw its school-record losing streak reach eight games.
In the opening minutes, though, the Jayhawks seemed fired up to break their slide in the Big 12 Conference.
The Jayhawks connected on their first two shots and had 1,000 or so fans roaring with approval.
But as quickly as KU's small lead was built, it disappeared.
The Jayhawks stayed around and kept things close for a while, but the Cowgirls ended the suspense about 10 minutes in with a 20-5 run.
During that stretch, KU went nearly six minutes without a bucket while the Cowgirls dominated the boards a theme that would continue the entire game as OSU outrebounded KU, 48-26.
"They just killed us on the boards," said Washington, whose team gave up 20 offensive rebounds to the Cowgirls. "It's unbelievable to watch them get two or three chances."
It didn't matter that OSU wasn't shooting particularly well, either, because neither was Kansas. KU senior KC Hilgenkamp, the Jayhawks' leading scorer, was forced to the bench with three fouls, and O-State's board work more than provided the difference in the first half as OSU took a 40-25 lead into the locker room.
"I'm not sure, I really couldn't tell you," Kansas senior Nikki White said of the Jayhawks' vanished enthusiasm. "I felt pretty fired up, even when we were down."
But Washington didn't feel as pumped about her senior class' effort in the first half, and she responded by starting a group of freshmen and sophomores after the break.
"I've got to the let the young players play," Washington said. "We're just at that point. They're going to be the ones that'll be a part of the future, and I've got to make sure they get a chance to play."
The change had minimal results, but the Jayhawks did manage to fight back and cut the Cowgirls' lead to single digits.
With White, who scored a season-high 15 points, leading the charge, KU cut OSU's lead to 48-39 with 9:24 to play on a lay-in by sophomore Keila Beachem.
But that was the closest the Jayhawks would get as OSU's five starters scored all but two of the Cowgirls' 73 points.
Oxford, Kan., native Trisha Skibbe led the way with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Chantoya Hawkins, who hails from Raytown, Mo., scored 10.
"I was really excited about our performance at Kansas State," Washington said. "That was a tough loss for us, because I really thought that we played well enough to win. But I was hoping that we would come back today and build on that game. We just didn't get it done.
"It's tough to win a lot of ballgames when you can't get it from your key players, or to stay in ball games. We work harder in practice than I saw us work today."
However, the morning session at Allen at least provided a Kansas winner, as the Blue team of alumnae all-stars beat the Gray team, 84-66.
Legendary player and current assistant coach Lynette Woodard was the player/coach for the Gray team at the start of the exhibition, but a quick lopsided score in favor of the Blue squad made Woodard venture over to the Gray bench.
Behind Woodard, the Gray team came back, but in the end the Blue team had too much pride to let Woodard win.
Lynn Pride, that is.
Kansas' fifth-leading career scorer had a game-high 29 points (but missed two dunk attempts pretty badly) and helped secure a Blue victory.
The game featured highly competitive moments, but was more a fun, run-and-gun performance by several of Kansas' top players.
Tamecka Dixon, a member of the 2001 Los Angeles Sparks' WNBA championship team, had a team-high 27 for the Gray team. Woodard finished with 15. Lisa Braddy added 12 for the Gray team. Keshana Ledet scored 17 for the Blue team, while Ericka Muncy and Sandy Holly added 12 apiece for the Blue team.
"There's nothing like Allen Fieldhouse," Dixon said with a smile. "Just the environment, the atmosphere, the fans, the community, the togetherness. There's no feeling like that and I've played everywhere the Forum, the Garden I'm always going to feel like I'm at home in the fieldhouse."