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February 18, 2013

Strong finish too late for Sooners

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Almost three fourths of the way Sunday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse, the Oklahoma women weren’t simply the second best team on the floor but a very distant second best. And being best the last 11 or 12 minutes wasn’t early enough to exit victoriously.

Ranked No. 22 but on its way out of the poll, OU fell 81-71 to Kansas.

The Sooners came out ice cold, not recording their second field goal until 10:17 remained in the half, nor their third until 6:42 remained. OU’s 20 first-half points were a season low, six points less than the 26 posted against Arkansas the fourth game of the season.

Worse, the second half was a similar story, with OU scoring only 12 points the first 8 minutes out of the locker room, allowing Kansas to push its lead all the way out to 19 points, 54-35 with 11:14 to play.

That’s when OU finally responded, eventually scoring 37 points over the game’s final 11:53.

The Sooners rallied within seven, 60-53, with 5:44 remaining on a layup from Sharane Campbell.

After Kansas pushed the edge back to 13 points, the Sooners had it back at seven, 70-63, with 1:28 remaining. But the Jayhawks hit their free throws down the stretch and that was the end of that.

Some typically reliable Sooners struggled for a second straight game. Aaryn Ellenberg came on late to finish with 21 points, but made only 9 of 26 shots. Point guard Morgan Hook hit 3 of 10 from the field and most of her misses were layups.

The bigs were OU’s strength.

Senior forward Joanna McFarland finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds for her eighth double-double against a Big 12 Conference opponent this season. Junior center Nicole Griffin made 8 of 12 shots, finished with 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Kansas was led by Carolyn Davis’ 24 points and 10 rebounds. Monica Engelman added 21 points and five rebounds.

The Sooners fell to 18-7 and 8-5 in the conference. The Jayhawks improved to 16-8 and 7-6.

OU had been in position to run away with the second spot in the conference behind top-ranked Baylor. Now the Sooners must fight not to slip to fourth, with Kansas State visiting Lloyd Noble Center on Wednesday, followed by four more regular season games: at Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas again and at Texas Tech.

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