NORMAN — As late as the 11:49 mark of the second half back on Jan. 26 at Ferrell Center, the Oklahoma women were within 10 points of No. 1 Baylor.
Also, that day, the Sooners closed against the Lady Bears on an 11-2 run. And shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg finished with a career-high 33 points. And forward Joanna McFarland scored 12 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, doubling up reigning player of the year Brittney Griner on the glass.
These are the things OU might want to think about today as it takes the court against Baylor for a special 6 p.m. tip at Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners remembering they went on that 11-2 run just to lose 82-65 probably isn’t advisable. And remembering what happened two days ago in Stillwater, where they were routed 83-62 by Oklahoma State might not be either. Unless, perhaps, it might be used a source of motivation.
“We have to regroup and go compete,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “We really competed against Baylor at their place, and that’s what I want our guys to do.”
“Regroup” is the right word.
Saturday, at Gallagher-Iba Arena, the Sooners scored four points the first 8 minutes of the first half and only two the first 41⁄2 minutes of the second half.
They survived the first lull and actually owned a three-point edge before the first half was complete. After the second slowdown, they were never any closer than six points to the Cowgirls and, after that, only fell further behind.
The handicap OU (19-8, 8-6 Big 12) faces after incurring so much injury was a topic in Coale’s post-Bedlam media session. She acknowledged it, but also appeared to show some frustration with the able-bodied players on the roster who remain.
“We know that our margin of error is really thin, really small and that everyone has to show up and fight and stay focused, and when they’re not you call timeout and yell and scream and turn a cartwheel and do what you can,” she said. “At some point, people have to make decisions.”
That first decision tonight may be to play to win. Against such a dominant team, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The Sooners didn’t give in at Waco and played well down the stretch, cutting the Lady Bear margin to 17 points, one of the lesser victory spreads Baylor has enjoyed this season.
Some of the Lady Bears’ (26-1, 15-0) greatest hits include a 34-point win over OSU, a 28-point win over Iowa State, and a 41-point win over Kansas, three teams own at least one win over OU.
It’s a quick turnaround for Baylor, too. The Lady Bears beat Texas 67-47 Saturday in Waco, securing the formality of another Big 12 regular season championship.
Yet, even if Baylor’s feeling very satisfied with itself, it will still be the best team to visit Lloyd Noble Center this season.
“They’re obviously an incredibly talented team,” Coale said. “They’re incredibly deep and we’ve got a week of conference play left and we’ve got to attack and play the way we know we can play, and get ourselves into the Big 12 tournament and see what happens.”
Another way to look at it?
Find a way to win and the Sooners will have shocked the women’s college basketball world.
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