NORMAN — On its face, it would appear, the 16th-ranked Oklahoma women lost a tough road game against a good team, UCLA, the last time out at historic Pauley Pavilion. Also, it would appear, some old bugaboos did them in.
They have been issues all season, and they were again a week ago today when the Bruins managed 20 offensive rebounds against the Sooners’ five, and turned them into 18 second-chance points against the Sooners’ nine.
Then there was free-throw shooting. OU made 72.7 percent, or 16 of 22, which is a little bit off the Sooners’ season mark of 73.7 percent, a pair of numbers that don’t meet with the liking of coach Sherri Coale.
Still, Coale says what happened in Los Angeles last Sunday was more bothersome than a couple of breakdowns, and that’s why today’s noon tip with Creighton (4-2), an NCAA tournament team from a year ago that returns four starters, has taken on additional relevance.
“It was a lifelessness, it was something I have not seen from this team,” Coale said. “Sort of like a bad skeleton in the closet that you didn’t know was there, and we have to get it out and air it out and make it go away.”
A bunch of things went wrong for the Sooners against the Bruins. Some-time starter Nicole Kornet went down with a hyperextended knee that was originally thought to be an anterior cruciate ligament tear and a reminder of so many other medical issues for the program. Center Nicole Griffin was slowed a by what appeared to be a sprained ankle, but instead was a broken toe. Also, leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg hit only 2 of 13 shots and none of her four 3-point attempts.
“We were incredibly affected, collectively and individually, by a series of things not going well,” Coale said. “And we have to learn to be the maestro of things that happen instead of letting things happen to us.”
The Sooners appear to be taking today’s challenge against the Blue Jays personally. Senior point guard Morgan Hook felt the last week had been difficult. With school not in session, OU has had even more time to let its last loss dance in its head.
“I think this whole game is entirely about us and our toughness. Ever since we lost to UCLA, it’s kind of been the fuel to the fire that we need to have,” Hook said. “And right now, we’re struggling with that toughness, with breaking through that wall, and I think (today) the game will be us breaking through the walls and us showing the fans, coach Coale, everyone, that we’re tough, we’re mentally tough.”
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