By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Barry Switzer was famous for coining “Sooner Magic” as an Oklahoma battle cry. If “Senior Magic” becomes a favorite, give Jasmine Hartman the credit.
Aaryn Ellenberg led the Sooner women with 22 points, but Hartman delivered almost as many and inspiration to burn as OU outlasted Kansas 85-77 Saturday night at Lloyd Noble Center.
Because it was senior night, Hartman was in the starting five for the first time all season. Because she played the game of her collegiate life, Sooner coach Sherri Coale smartly left her in the game.
Hartman entered averaging 1.1 points, 0.8 assists and 11.2 minutes per outing. She played 26 minutes, finished with a career-high 18 points and even led her team with five assists.
“I made a decision before the game,” she said. “I didn’t want to wait. I chose to jump off the bridge or the cliff or whatever you want to call it.”
She played free, but it came at a high price for the Jayhawks.
Hartman scored the game’s first bucket, the first half’s last bucket on a buzzer-beating drive to the basket, the first three points of the second half and OU’s last four points, icing the game with a quartet of free throws.
During postgame festivities Coale said she was so happy when Hartman chose to come back to the program for her fifth-year senior season.
“We probably wouldn’t have beaten Kansas tonight,” Coale said, “if she doesn’t make that decision.”
Fittingly, Hartman received plenty of help from fellow senior Joanna McFarland, who notched her 10th double-double of the conference season, grabbing one last rebound before Coale got her off the court to a hearty ovation with 25 seconds remaining.
More meaningful, though, was her 3-pointer with 5:47 remaining that gave the Sooners their first 10-point lead of the game.
“We didn’t think that they were going to give it to us. We knew it was going to be a dog fight all night,” McFarland said. “We knew if we were going to celebrate the way we wanted to, it was going to have to be all business.”
OU trailed by as many as six points, 35-29, 5:11 before the half, but finished the half on a 10-0 run behind four points each from Ellenberg and Hartman.
The Sooners spent the second half, mostly in vain, trying to break away from the Jayhawks. But they finally made it happen over the last 3 minutes with 3-pointers from point guard Morgan Hook, McFarland and Ellenberg.
OU led by 11 before Kansas’ Angel Goodrich knocked down a 3-pointer for the game’s final basket.
“We were playing extremely well and they just wouldn’t go away,” Coale said. “And I think it was just the focus of our kids that they weren’t going to let that game get away.”
McFarland, Nicole Griffin and Hook all added 13 points for the Sooners.
Carolyn Davis led the Jayhawks with 18 points. Monica Engleman added 16, Goodrich finished with 15 and Markisha Hawkins came off the bench to score 11.
When it was over, most of the fans and all of the Sooners remained for about 45 minutes of senior night celebration that honored Lyndsey Cloman, Whitney Hand, McFarland and Hartman.
Though many shed tears, it was still a far more cheerful occasion than senior night last season, when Kansas beat the Sooners 83-77.
Not this time.
“We got our edge back,” McFarland said. “We played with a lot of passion and executed. It was kind of the best of both worlds.”
On senior night, it lived up to the billing.
Follow me @clayhorning
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