COLUMBUS, Ohio —
It’s personal for Joanna McFarland.
Really, really personal.
So personal, she personally kept the Sooners afloat Saturday morning until the rest of them came along for their 78-73 first-round NCAA tournament victory over Central Michigan.
She took one of those what got into you type of questions afterward and spoke from the heart.
“I didn’t want to lose. I don’t want to lose,” she said. “Every game could be my last game as a college athlete and I’m very emotional about that.”
So emotional, you could hear her voice threatening to crack before she said “emotional.”
If only every other Sooner could summon the same kind of effort McFarland summoned Saturday, and pretty much the rest of the season, they’d be that much closer to getting back to Oklahoma City, an appointment they can only earn by topping UCLA Monday evening back inside St. John Arena.
McFarland scored 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, the first a career high and the second her third highest total of the season. She scored 16 points, twice as many as any of her teammates, and grabbed nine rebounds before the half.
She was the only player Oklahoma could count on to make a 3-pointer or chase down the ball.
Despite sharing the court with players from both teams who will always bring more natural athletic prowess to the floor, she was the only one who was everywhere on the floor.
It’s not that the Sooners might not have won without her, but that they might have been buried.
The Chippewas grabbed 23 offensive rebounds.
How many do they get if not for McFarland’s 13 defensive boards?
Though Aaryn Ellenberg finally came along and filled it up for the first time since the regular season concluded, she was still jumping in to help maintain a lead McFarland played the key role in building in the first place.