COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sharane Campbell appeared reluctant to accept the X-factor role coach Sherri Coale had awarded her in a press conference the day before.
“I didn’t hear anything about that,” Campbell said. “I just go out there and play hard. Anybody can be the X-factor. I thought we all played hard today, so everybody’s the X-factor.
“It’s not just one player.”
Nobody’s going to quibble with Campbell on the matter, not after her 19-point performance was a big part of the reason why the Oklahoma women upset UCLA Monday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament inside St. John Arena.
And still, it appears Coale had a point. She said she wasn’t sure the Sooners had lost on a day Campbell played very well. Well, Campbell played very well against the Bruins and guess what happened?
She made 6 of 8 shots and 6 of 7 free throws, but two of her field goals stole the show. The first was a sign of things to come, when she received the ball on an inbounds play, challenged UCLA’s much bigger Alyssia Brewer, made the basket and was fouled.
The free-throw gave OU a 21-20 edge, but it was her display after the shot and before the free throw that helped set the Sooners’ tone for the rest of the game.
“When she shows emotion like that, like when she had that and-one, it sparks everybody,” senior forward Joanna McFarland said. “When Sharane’s playing well and we’re playing well, it’s fun. It’s so much fun.”
The other came after UCLA had come back from a 10-point first-half deficit and a 42-37 halftime score to tie the game 45-45. Campbell had the ball in the right corner, next to the OU bench, guarded, yet not so guarded she couldn’t get a shot off. So she knocked down a 3-pointer and put OU on top 48-45.
The Sooners never trailed again.
“Sharane’s a very demonstrative player,” Coale said. “When she falls, everybody in the gym watches her fall, because it’s a scene … She plays with a great deal of emotion and that can’t help but be contagious.”
It appeared to be Monday.
Campbell’s 3-pointer not only put OU on top for good but began a 10-3 run that built the lead back to seven points. The Bruins got it back to five twice, but OU carried no less than a two-possession cushion the rest of the game.
The Sooners were on their way to Oklahoma City.
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