IOWA CITY, Iowa — It took a while. More than a half. But eventually the Oklahoma women looked a lot more like their better selves Sunday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
OU, the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Tournament’s Oklahoma City Regional, turned a 10-point game into a laugher the first 10 minutes of the second half against No. 16-seed Prairie View A&M.;
The 76-47 victory propelled the Sooners into a second-round contest with Georgia Tech. If OU can win that game, it will have the chance to reach its first Final Four since 2002 through the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.
“We played hard and we competed,” point guard Danielle Robinson said.
That may be the best way to put it, because effort wasn’t the issue. Execution, however, was.
OU missed a quartet of first-half layups, led by only five points almost 9 minutes into the game and, after finding its stride in time to take a 16-point edge 1:41 before the break, allowed eight straight Prairie View points while committing a spate of turnovers, before Robinson closed the half with a driving layup to go up 38-28.
The second half was a different story.
OU didn’t commit its first post-intermission turnover until 9:48 remained. The Sooners led 65-41 at the time and any lingering doubts about how well the Sooners can play were clearly answered.
Several Sooners said they thought nerves were to blame for most of the first-half problems. Still, Ashley Paris made it clear, they can’t be content with one good half. Inconsistency can’t follow OU around through March Madness like a dark cloud.
“This is the NCAA tournament,” she said. “It can’t be an issue.”
Nobody lit it up for OU, but Robinson closed with a fantastic game, finishing with team-high 15 points, six assists and four steals. She even grabbed seven rebounds.
Ashley Paris finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Courtney Paris scored 11 and grabbed 16 boards. With Carlee Roethlisberger adding 10 off the bench, the Sooners put four players in double figures after doing it only once in their previous seven games.
Amanda Thompson, dealing with an injury to her left foot, said she could have played, but sat out in the name of caution and extra rest. She said she’d be back on the court Tuesday.
Prairie View, which had won 19 straight games coming into the tournament, was led by 15 points each from Dominique Smith and Gatti Werema.