Norman — By Michael Kinney
Transcript Sports Writer
Just looking at a stat sheet, it would be impossible to tell the impact Oklahoma’s Carlee Roethlisberger has on a game. She hardly ever leads the team in scoring, rebounding or assists.
In fact, in many games, she can just blend into the background of a Sooner team that features Danielle Robinson, Abi Olajuwon and Amanda Thompson. Yet, her presence on the court always can be felt, especially in big games.
Such was the case Tuesday as Roethlisberger made plays on both ends of the floor to help key Oklahoma’s 60-44 win over the University of Arkansas-Little Rock in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Lloyd Noble Center.
Roethlisberger’s presence quickly was felt in the first half when she came off the bench and provided an instant offensive spark. That included draining a 3-pointer and a couple of jump shots which got the crowd onto its feet.
Roethlisberger tallied all of her nine points in the first half during a stretch when the Sooners’ offense was struggling to put the ball in the hole.
But it was on the defensive end Roethlisberger had her biggest influence.
UALR’s Chastity Reed came into the tournament as one of the leading scorers in the country. The junior has game highs of 43 and 42 points this season.
Reed saw several OU defenders try to guard her, but it was Roethlisberger who put in the majority of the time on her.
The 6-foot-1 Roethlisberger was able to keep the dangerous Reed from driving to basket for uncontested layups by keeping her body in front of her. And with her arm length, Roethlisberger also was able to keep a hand in Reed’s face on every jump shot.
Even though Reed finished with 20 points, it was five below her season average. And with no other UALR player hitting double figures, it was as close to a shutout as the Sooners could expect.
Defense and rebounding are the staples of any good college team looking to make deep postseason runs. At times this year, Oklahoma was guilty of forgetting those tenets.
However, with a trip to the Sweet 16 in Kansas City on the line, the Sooners made sure they didn’t forget it against the Trojans and Roethlisberger was a huge reason why.