By Kelli Grashel
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Most college athletes take full advantage of their free time doing anything but practicing more. This is not the case for Oklahoma State junior forward Liz Donohoe. Almost every night, you can find Donohoe back in the gym practicing her shots well after everyone else is gone.
OSU head coach Jim Littell says that Donohoe has had ups and downs but has always been diligent and a hard worker getting in a ton of shots.
“She has always been one that spent a lot of time in the gym and really spends a lot of time shooting the ball,” Littell said. “She has tried to perfect her craft in that area.”
That hard work has paid off for Donohoe. Her freshman season, she led Big 12 freshmen in scoring and rebounds, was seventh in the Big 12 in scoring and was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Then the unthinkable happened.
On Nov.17, 2011, Cowgirls head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were tragically killed in a plane accident. That same season the Cowgirls did the unthinkable under the circumstances and won the 2012 WNIT championship. Donohoe, a freshman at the time, had a real reason to play.
“When that happened, we all had to come together to get through it and we’re still sad to this day,” Donohoe said. “It was a huge motivation our freshman year to just keep playing for them through the years.”
She keeps that motivation close during games with the “Remember the 4” logo on her jersey right by her heart. That motivation led her to 14 points and 11 rebounds helping the Cowgirls claim the program’s first WNIT title.
“I think I’ve just grown because in that year we had a lot of motivation and I did too,” Donohoe said. “We had to perform well and win the WNIT for them. I think I just continued to live by that to live to play for them.”
Fast-forward to her sophomore year, Donohoe made 40 consecutive free throws tying the 14th-best record in NCAA history. This mark led her to rank first in the Big 12 and eighth nationally in free-throw percentage (91.1%.) Not only that, but she broke the school’s single-season free-throw percentage, which was set in the 1979-80 season.
“I don’t really pay much attention to those types of things,” Donohoe said. “It’s a cool honor but I don’t really care that much for those things. I really just care about how we’re performing as a team and how many wins we’re getting.”
The motivation didn’t stop there. On Dec.1 in a win over North Texas, Donohoe tied her career high with 27 points in a game marking the third time she reached 27 points in a single game.
“Now, I think my motivation is that I’m a junior and upperclassman so I know I need to contribute more than I have in the past,” Donohoe said. “It’s going to be harder for me to get the shots that I was getting so that motivates me because I know I have to be better in order to play. Right now I’ve been in a bit of a slump shooting-wise, so that’s awesome motivation to get in the gym and work on that so that I can perform to the best of my ability.”
Littell has seen a transformation in her playing through the years. He says the biggest growth in her game is that she’s turned into a better defender.
“In her early years here she struggled with the idea of guarding some real athletic wings in our conference,” Littell said. “She’s worked on her game and developed into a really good defensive player. She’s been one of our top rebounders in the last two years as well so she’s helped us out in terms of rebounding.”
Donohoe isn’t all basketball though. When she’s not playing basketball, she enjoys playing video games or doing outdoor activities (but only if it’s warm.)
It’s rare to find her off the court though. Littell says her devotion to the game is evident in every part of her, on and off the court.
“I think her best quality is that she really loves basketball,” Littell said. “She has a passion for it and I think that comes out in everything that she does. Off the court, she’s a good person and I think she cares about her teammates and her teammates know that.”
On the same day that she tied her career-high this season against North Texas, Donohoe set the school record by making seven 3-point shots in a single game. Littell remembers this special day as one of his favorite memories of Liz.
“She had a special night in here when she made seven 3-pointers and she broke the school record,” Littell said. “Last year in the Big 12 tournament she had 22 points against Baylor when they were No.1 in the nation and we took them down to the last minute and a half of the game. Those two games stick out as being two very nice games for her.”
Moving forward into Big 12 play, Donohoe says they have grown as a team even from the first Big 12 game. She says they have spent a lot of time watching film and figuring out what they need to improve on from that. Despite this, she knows they still have some work to do to finish out the season.
“I think we grow as a team game after game but it’s never going to stop. We’re still grinding and we’re never satisfied,” Donohoe said. “We won’t get too high when we win and we won’t get too low when we lose so that’s a big part of it.”
This season, Donohoe became the 21st women’s basketball player in OSU history to reach 1,000 career points. What did she do to celebrate such a momentous milestone? Donohoe said she did what she always does.