NORMAN — Oklahoma was hoping to get lots of things done Sunday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.
Playing their last non-conference game of the season, the Sooners wanted to exit in the best possible position to enter Big 12 Conference play Thursday night at Texas Tech.
Instead, OU was thrown a curve ball when senior shooting guard and leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg suffered a concussion in practice, forcing her out of the game and into day-to-day availability mode going forward.
If the Sooners didn’t hit that curve ball out of the park, they at least fought it off nicely, posting a 66-35 victory over Samford,
“I think we made baby steps. We moved toward the things that we had focused on over the break,” Sooner coach Sherri Coale said. “We did a really nice job of reversing the basketball and sharing it. I think that’s reflected in our shooting percentage.”
The Sooners shot 50 percent (23 of 46) on the nose and hit a very respectable 7 of 15 from 3-point land. One place they went backward was at the free-throw line, where they barely eclipsed 50 percent, making 13 of 24.
With Ellenberg out, true freshman Derica Wyatt drew her first start and made it count with nine first half points on 3 of 3 3-point shooting.
Senior point guard Morgan Hook finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists without a turnover, while center Nicole Griffin added 12 points and four rebounds. Wyatt finished with 11 points and Kaylon Williams came off the bench to add eight points and eight rebounds.
“I just had to keep the mindset of not having a drop-off between me and Aaryn,” Wyatt said of her first start, seemingly holding herself to a very high standard. “So I just had to play hard and do my part on the floor.”
The Sooners managed to win by 31 points, even without running up the score, and they managed to do it by unloading the bench and getting contributions from everywhere.
Gioya Carter added eight points, Sharane Campbell added seven, four rebounds and four assists without a turnover, of the 10 players to get on the court, only freshman reserve point guard T’Ona Edwards failed to score, while everybody grabbed at least two rebounds, a category in which OU led 46-21.
“(A) benefit that comes from that, which is huge and you can’t overlook it, is every time these guys get minutes they earn trust from me,” Coale said. “These guys can play. These guys on the bench can play. Not only can they function, they make an impact.”
While OU moved to 9-4, Samford dropped to 3-9.
Samford, which shot just 25 percent (12 of 48) from the floor and 6 of 33 from 3-point land, got 12 points and six rebounds from Shelby Campbell. Lydia McGee added seven points and five rebounds.
Thursday, in Lubbock, it will become much more real.
“I think we still have a lot of work to do and right now w’ere just going over hills and hills and we are just trying to get up that mountain,” Hook said.
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