OKLAHOMA CITY — With about a minute to play, there was a great picture to be taken on the Sooner bench. Everybody was seated. Everybody but Whitney Hand.
In front of her, the Oklahoma women were beaten but not defeated. They were down by double-digits, like they’d been since the middle of the first half when, unable to make a shot, any shot, the game got far away enough from them that Tennessee could see Tuesday night back on the same court pretty clearly.
Hand stood, taking it all in. Then, sitting down, having taken it in, it was like it washed over her. Occasionally, you could see her continuing to watch the game. Mostly, though, her hands covered much of her face.
This was it.
“We had a chance,” she said afterward. “We had a few key stops and if we’d made a few buckets it would have been different.”
That was the first few minutes of the second half and she was right. It would have been different.
Maybe the Sooners don’t silence Rocky Top, but they would have given the Lady Vols something to think about.
If Nicole Griffin could have hit a layup and caught the ball amidst Tennessee’s pressure … If Aaryn Ellenberg could have hit anything the first two-thirds of the game … If Morgan Hook wouldn’t have taken a knee to the noggin.
Yes, it would have been different.
It wasn’t though.
The Sooner effort was as valiant as it was futile, which is to say plenty in both directions. So there Hand stood, taking it all in, the moment and much of the last five years of her life.
"It’s a really weird feeling. It doesn’t really feel real at this point,” she said. “Those final seconds I was just listening to the crowd and thinking this is it, this is it, this is the last time we’ll get to sing the fight song, this is the last time I’ll get to say, ‘good game’, to a group of girls.