COLUMBUS, Ohio — There are extreme sports and then there are extreme games and the Oklahoma women played one to get past Central Michigan 78-73 in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday morning at St. John Arena.
OU prevailed despite allowing 31 more field goal attempts than it attempted. That’s a season-high discrepancy, topping Jan. 19 against Texas, when the Longhorns shot it 26 more times than OU.
The Sooners also committed 24 turnovers, 17 more than the Chippewas. Both numbers are season highs, topping the 21 they committed against West Virginia on Jan. 2 and the eight-turnover discrepancy that accumulated in the same game.
Additionally, OU allowed 23 offensive rebounds, the third most it’s allowed this season.
The worst day OU had on the defensive glass came Jan. 5 when Texas grabbed 27 offensive rebounds. Also, UCLA, which OU plays Monday, grabbed 24 offense boards Nov. 14 at Lloyd Noble Center.
Part of the reason OU survived so many negative numbers were its 86.4 percent (19 of 22) free-throw shooting, its sixth best clip of the season and its best when netting 20 or more attempts.
Individually, Joanna McFarland’s 18 rebounds marked a career high, Morgan Hook’s seven turnovers were two off her season high and were her second-most giveaways this season. Also, Crystal Bradford’s 36 points are the most by an individual against OU this season.
Kornet shows up: While Aaryn Ellenberg had just four of her 22 points before the half, the Sooners needed more than Joanna McFarland’s 16 to build its nine-point intermission edge. They got them from Nicole Kornet, who scored all eight of her points on 3-of-6 first-half shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“I just came in and gave it my all,” Kornet said.
Her first two baskets, a 3 and a 2, gave OU its first nine-point lead of the game, 34-25, in the first half.
Practice helps: The biggest part of OU’s 19-of-22 free-throw performance was Sharane Campbell making all seven of her tries. Prior to Saturday. Cambell had made 57.7 percent (25 of 45) of her free throws over her last 12 games, a stretch in which she averaged less than four attempts.
“I got in the gym. I think the work paid off” Campbell said. “It was just a matter of getting my muscle memory back.”
Layups: The Sooners have now won eight straight NCAA tourney openers. If they win Monday, they will earn the program’s ninth trip into the Sweet 16 since 2000 … Ellenberg’s seven rebounds are a career high … It was the first meeting between OU and Central Michigan … Bradford finished with seven steals to go with all those points … The Sooner never trailed over the game’s final 34:06.