No. 15/16 Women's Basketball falls to No. 3/3 Oklahoma, 74-62
March 8, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The regular season is history. The Oklahoma Sooners now want to make some in the postseason.
The No. 3 Sooners held off No. 15 Texas 74-62 on Sunday, sending the Big 12 regular season champions into the conference tournament aiming to win it and secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
"This is not the end of the road," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "They know there are greater things out there."
Coale also Sunday she expects to have freshman guard Whitney Hand available for the postseason. Hand started 26 games and was the team's top 3-point shooter before breaking her left index figure on Feb. 21.
The Sooners (27-3, 15-1) certainly looked like national title contenders in the first half when they shot 62 percent from the floor and took a 40-21 lead into halftime. The lead got as big as 27 in the second before the Longhorns rallied to get within 11 in the final minute.
Danielle Robinson led the Sooners with 17 points and Paris and Amanda Thompson each scored 16. Paris had just six rebounds, missing her 124th career double-double in 130 games.
Coale liked seeing other players carry the load.
"We're playing through Courtney instead of to her," Coale said.
Ashley Lindsey scored 16 to lead the Longhorns.
Even with the loss, Texas coach Gail Goestenkors has said she's confident her team will get into the NCAA tournament.
On Sunday, Paris had eight points in the first half, but it was Robinson and Thompson doing most of the damage with nine points each and disrupting the Longhorns offense on the perimeter.
"Sometimes they were guarding me, sometimes they weren't," Thompson said.
With the Longhorns still focused on stopping Paris, Robinson hit an early jumper before another Texas turnover led to Nyeshia Stevenson's 3-pointer. Paris grabbed two rebounds for putbacks and the Sooners led 46-25.
"They're so much more than one player. I thought we did a good job on Courtney overall, but their other players stepped up," Goestenkors said.
Another basket by Paris and a 3-pointer by Jenny Vining made it 55-28 with just under 14 minutes left.
When Texas started cutting out the miscues - just five turnovers in the second half - the Longhorns rallied with a 19-6 run that got the Oklahoma lead under 15 with about six minutes to play. Kat Nash hit two 3-pointers in the run.
"Texas outworked us in the second half," Coale said. "Our experience and maturity enabled us to steady the ship."
On the key to their strong second half: We picked up full court, tried to trap and create some things with our defense. Offensively, having that attack mindset, and our guards did a good job of getting to the rim. If they got stopped, they were looking for a post. We were much more aggressive during that run on both ends of the floor.
On the lineup change to start the game: Brittainey [Raven] has not been rebounding for us. That's been such a focus for us. After the last game when she didn't have any rebounds, I felt like I needed to make a statement to her. We had been talking about it but I really needed to show how important it was. I thought the second half, the way she battled, not just on offense and defense but on the boards as well, that's we need from her for 40 minutes. It changes the way we play when she's that aggressive.
On evaluating the last two seasons: I think we've come a long way. We play hard and I think everybody's growing. On and off the court, I see great growth from our players. I'm very proud of them. However, there's inconsistency. If you're going to be a championship team, you have to bring it every single moment you're out there. I don't think we have a player that will bring it night in, night out. We don't have that team yet. That's part of the growing process. We've learned to win on the road. Now we have to learn to be consistent with our effort. That's another level for us that we need to get to.
SOPHOMORE GUARD Kathleen Nash
On the momentum going into the postseason: I think it'll be great for us coming off that second half. We realize that's how we need to play, moving on offense and defense, penetrating and kicking to each other. Hopefully we'll take that and transfer it over to the Big 12 Tournament.
SENIOR FORWARD Ashley Lindsey
On the quality of Oklahoma: They're a great team. They have a variety of people that can score. They're the best in the Big 12.
On her career at Texas: I had two great coaches, one for two years, the other for these last two years. They've taught me a whole lot.
FRESHMAN GUARD Ashleigh Fontenette
On committing 21 turnovers: I thought we got to playing too fast late. We had a few crazy ones in the first half, nothing I was too upset about. But in the second half we just went way too fast. Trying to fix what we had broken all in one fell swoop and it kind of caught up with us.
On Amanda Thompson's play: I thought she was fantastic. She did what she's known for, and that's go get the ball off the glass. She defended and did a nice job on (Brittainey) Raven. Offensively, she let the game come to her. She didn't try to do too much and was focused on feeding our posts and reacting off those feeds. I thought she was very aggressive too and I loved that.
JUNIOR FORWARD AMANDA THOMPSON
SOPHOMORE GUARD DANIELLE ROBINSON