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March 16, 2013

OU Women stumble

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A home-mat, -bars, -floor and -vault advantage? If you’re competing inside Coleman Coliseum, sure.

No. 1 Oklahoma found out the hard way Friday, falling 197.525-196.875 at fourth-ranked Alabama, where 11,776 fans showed up to see if the Crimson Tide could knock off the unbeaten Sooners.

OU might well have been shell-shocked by the crowd and Alabama’s 32-match winning streak — a run going back to the 2009 season — inside its own gym.

“It felt like we didn’t show up until the last event tonight,” OU coach K.J. Kindler said. “We got off to a slow start on bars, missing five out of six landings, then proceeded to go to vault and missed six out of six. We dug ourselves a hole we could not fill.”

Alabama landed event winners on three of four disciplines, with Lauren Beers and Kayla Williams splitting honors on the vault (9.95), Ashley Sledge winning on the bars (9.95) and Beers and Kim Jacob splitting honors on the floor.

OU’s Taylor Spears was tops on the beam (9.95) and in the all-around (39.450), yet that wasn’t nearly enough to make up for several disappointing performances.

Sooner freshman Haley Scaman did what she could to fill the void, posting the Sooners’ best routine in every discipline won by a Crimson Tide gymnast. She scored a 9.875 on the vault, bars and floor.

Fellow freshman Malie’ana Kanewa matched Scaman on the vault and Brie Olson matched her on the bars, though OU needed those kinds of performances from everybody or still better routines from somebody.

Yet, it was only on the bars where the Sooners really came through, with Spears nearly perfect and Lauren Alexander and Rebecca Clark both scoring 9.9.

The last night of the regular season for OU (19-1), it will move on to the Big 12 meet in Ames, Iowa, a week from today, hoping to claim its second straight conference championship.

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