By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Oklahoma women, trying to get two games better than even in the Big 12 Conference, trying to follow up a big win with a big win, trying to win the game that had seemingly eluded them all season long … blew a 14-point second-half lead to No. 13 West Virginia Thursday night at Lloyd Noble Center.
The 76-75 loss only occurred after Gioya Carter, Nicole Griffin and Kaylon Williams had all fouled out; and only after both senior point guard Morgan Hook and junior forward Sharane Campbell had both missed a pair of free throws over the final 90 seconds; and only after freshman guard T’Ona Edwards back-rimmed a free-throw that would have sent the game into overtime with 0.3 seconds remaining.
The day before the game, Hook said the team believed it might be in danger of not reaching the NCAA tournament. Right or not, the loss did OU no favors, dropping the Sooners to 15-10 overall and 6-6 in the conference with Bedlam rival and 12th-ranked Oklahoma State waiting in Stillwater for a noon Sunday tip.
The Mountaineers improved to 21-3 and 10-2.
“We bogged down after about the midway point of the second half,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “We had multiple opportunities to stretch our lead and we didn’t. Early in the second half, we just missed a bunch of really good looks.”
The Sooners did much more than that.
Over the game’s final 6:42, OU did not make a field goal, going 0-9, with six of the misses counted as layups in the game’s official play-by-play. OU also missed 5 of 9 free throws over the game’s final 2:21.
“They made plays,” senior shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg said, “and we didn’t.”
Ellenberg led the Sooners with 18 points, though 14 came in the first half and her last bucket came with 12:01 remaining.
Bria Holmes led the Mountaineers with 19 points. Averee Fields added 12 and eight rebounds.
OU led 48-34 with 17:52 remaining and still led by seven, 65-58, with 7:44 remaining, but that’s when everything blew up.
At the 6:49 mark, Carter fouled out after scoring 12 points. At the 3:34 mark, Griffin, OU’s center, fouled out with 13 points and nine rebounds, and with 2:01 remaining, Williams, the Sooners’ remaining post, also fouled out with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Despite all of that, OU still led 74-73 after two free throws from Nicole Kornet with 59 seconds remaining.
West Virginia turned it over its next trip down the floor, but with 29 seconds remaining Campbell couldn’t make the Mountaineers pay, missing two free throws.
Fields, with a short jumper, put West Virginia up 75-74 with 13 seconds remaining. Trying to answer, Hook’s driving reverse layup was blocked by Jess Harlee.
Taylor Palmer followed by hitting one of two free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining, leaving OU down a bucket and having to go the length of the floor.
Kornet baseballed it from the baseline to the opposite free-throw line, where it was deflected to Edwards, who was clobbered by Palmer. Edwards made the first free throw and, after waiting through a Mountaineer timeout, missed the second.
“Down the stretch, we didn’t make free throws and they did,” Hook said. “We let them get to the line too many times and then we had our chances to seal the deal and we couldn’t convert.”
OU made 26 of 38 from the free-throw line. West Virginia made 24 of 27.
“The last kid standing at the line always feels the worst but there were many before and then there were some in the first half,” Coale said. “In a one-point game, there are a million things that you can point to.”
Thursday night at Lloyd Noble Center, the Sooners had plenty to choose from.
Follow me @clayhorning
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