The Norman Transcript

March 24, 2010

How sweet it is

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

Norman — Oklahoma did what it was supposed to do Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center. The third-seeded Sooners topped No. 11 seed Arkansas-Little Rock 60-44 to advance to the women's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

The rest really didn’t seem to matter.

“A win is a win,” OU forward Abi Olajuwon said after scoring 19 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. “Every game could be your last. In the end, you have to grind it out and get the W. That’s what we did tonight.”

That’s the thing about Tuesday’s game, it wasn’t a thing of beauty, but style points aren’t awarded at this point in the year.

Winning is the only thing that matters.

Nothing about Tuesday’s game was fluid. The Sooners and Trojans combined for 42 turnovers and the score was indicative of how tough it was to score on either end.

“Grind it out is a good way to describe what happened,” OU coach Sherri Coale said, “but that’s part of toughness.”

OU shot 49 percent (23-for-47). Danielle Robinson scored 13 points, but had five turnovers to three assists.

Amanda Thompson, who entered the second round with a four-game streak of double-doubles, scored just six points and pulled down just three rebounds in 32 minutes.

What kept the Sooners going was their third and fourth and even fifth scoring options came through.

Olajuwon’s double-double was indicative of what the Sooners were able to do. She’s OU’s best post player, but fourth-leading scorer.

“Abi stepped up and hurt them the whole night,” Thompson said. “She stepped in and filled that role. I’m proud of her.”

The Trojans (27-7) didn’t have those kinds of options. Leading scorer Chastity Reed scored 20 points.

But there was no second option for Arkansas-Little Rock, which shot 37.3 percent from the field and 0-for-16 from 3-point range.

Kim Sitzmann carried the Trojans in their first-round victory. The guard scored 21 points by going 4-for-7 from 3-point to help Arkansas-Little Rock upset sixth-seed Georgia Tech.

Tuesday night, she finished with two points on 1-for-13 shooting.

“We didn’t do anything special,” Stevenson said. “We just played straight up man-to-man, back-to-the-basics stuff.”

Marian Kursh and Shanika Butler scored 9 points apiece for Arkansas-Little Rock.

The Sooners (25-10) took control late in the first half with a 10-0 run to close the first half. The run put OU up 28-13 at halftime. A 15-point lead seemed like 50 the way the turnovers were piling up.

The lead never dipped under 10 points in the final 20 minutes.

No matter how much OU struggled on the offensive end, its trip to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in the last five years always seemed secure.

“You’re going to have a game where you don’t play very well. If you can have it and win, you have to feel really good,” Coale said.

The Sooners advanced to face No. 2 seed Notre Dame, which topped 10th-seeded Vermont 84-66, Sunday at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

John Shinn 366-3536 jshinn@normantranscript.com