The Norman Transcript

March 29, 2010

Hartman’s hands all over victory

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Here’s the way the biggest shot of the game happened Sunday night at Sprint Center, the one Nyeshia Stevenson sank to lift Oklahoma past Notre Dame in extra time.

Danielle Robinson controlled the ball and appeared to pick up her dribble at a bad time, just a Notre Dame defenders converged upon her. Robinson said she planned it that way, knowing somebody would be open and somebody happened to be Jasmine Hartman, who soon felt pressure converging on her.

“Every time the back line (of the zone) comes up to me,” Hartman said, “I’m supposed to go to the corner.”

Stevenson was standing in the corner.

The Sooners are one win from their second straight Final Four following their 77-72 victory over the Irish.

Hartman had a lot to do with it.

She finished with six points, four rebounds, five assists and three turnovers, but all the turnovers came before the half and all the assists came near the end. It was Hartman who dished the Sooners’ last three assists.

She found Abi Olajuwon, who put the Sooners up 68-66. Then she found Robinson, who put the Sooners up 70-68. Then she found Stevenson to bring the house down.

“A lot of the sets that we run, she’s going to be the passer,” Robinson said. “She does a great job of drawing the defender.”

But while what she did on the offensive end may be what’s remembered, it was secondary to what she did on the defensive end.

Hartman, a sophomore, drew Skyler Diggins, Notre Dame’s freshman phenom and leading scorer at 13.9 points per game.

“The thing Jas did all night was guard Skyler Diggins,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “The two for three from the 3-point line was gravy.”

Diggins was quick enough to log six steals, but couldn’t shake Hartman’s defense, making just 4 of 14 shots to finish with 10 points, not one of them in the extra frame.

Hartman dished a career-high seven assists opening night against Mercer. Four times this season she has dished four, though she entered Sunday having dished four over her last three games.

Apparently, she has a flair for the dramatic.

After getting the ball from Robinson in the closing seconds, feeling the heat of the Irish defense coming up from the baseline and finding Stevenson in the corner, Hartman heard Coale from the bench even before Stevenson let fly.

“Got ’em,” Coale said.

It was Stevenson’s best look since before the half.

“I just jumped up and shot it,” she said.

Yet first she had to be found.

Clay Horning 366-3526 cfhorning@normantranscript.com