NORMAN — You have to hand it to the Oklahoma women. Though the ride is sometimes bumpy, the Sooners always seem to save their best for last.
It happened again this season, as the No. 6-seed Sooners returned to the Sweet 16 after topping Central Michigan and, stunningly, UCLA inside Ohio State’s St. John Arena a little more than a week ago.
Sunday, via a 74-59 loss to No. 2-seed Tennessee at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OU’s season ended.
The Sooners finished the season 24-11, with an 11-7 conference record that was good for third place in the Big 12, a league that sent seven teams into the NCAA tournament.
OU also finished with seven healthy players in uniform, one of which, Eden Williams, only joined the squad at the semester, following the Sooner volleyball’s team’s ouster from its NCAA tournament.
“The guys have done amazing things this season against really unbelievable odds,” coach Sherri Coale said a few minutes after the season ended.
OU’s first loss was Kaylon Williams, the forward who closed her freshman season entrenched in the starting lineup, to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Next, though she’d rehabbed from knee surgery made necessary by a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a degenerative disk in Lyndsey Cloman’s back forced her to finish her senior season on the bench.
Then, the last week of November, three games after entering the starting lineup, freshman guard Maddie Manning tore the ACL in her right knee. And Dec. 6 against North Texas, Whitney Hand, the face of the program, tore the ACL in her left knee.
Finally, Sunday, 9 minutes into the game with the Lady Vols, point guard Morgan Hook suffered concussion-like symptoms after taking a knee to the head that sent her to the bench for the rest of the game.