By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Oklahoma women weren’t spectacular Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center. They were, though, plenty good, dispatching Kansas State 72-57 in a game not at all so close.
The Sooners, out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in a long time, shot the ball well, took care of it, too, and received big games from their most important players.
Looking toward their last four games of the regular season, and after losing two straight to Iowa State and Kansas, the Sooners got what they needed against the Wildcats.
“We were certainly better,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “I remember in the second half I thought, ‘Ah, I recognize you, I remember that.’ We were just sharing the ball and playing with great cadence and that is exactly what we needed to see tonight.”
It began with center Nicole Griffin, who did most of her work early and went on to finish with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Next, Aaryn Ellenberg ended a rash of bad shooting to make 7 of 12 from the floor and 2 of 4 from 3-point land, leading OU with 18 points and five assists.
Point guard Morgan Hook hit 4 of 7 shots for nine points and dished four assists against a single turnover. And Joanna McFarland, like clockwork, delivered another double-double, her ninth of the conference season, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“We just played with great rhythm on offense and that’s why our shots were falling,” Hook said. “We passed to Nicole whenever we wanted to. It was an inside-out game and I think, overall, our spacing and everything was just where it needed to be.”
Kansas State, the only team in the conference with less depth than OU, didn’t help its cause by shooting less than 20 percent deep into the first half and, by the time it was over, 30 percent (20 of 67). Coale thought her team had something to do with that.
“For the most part (it was) a very solid defensive performance against a team that is very, very hard to guard,” she said. “Kansas State missed some shots … but there’s always a little defense involved with how they’re feeling to get those shots, like if they’re out of rhythm or rushed.”
Meanwhile, while OU shot better than 50 percent (31 of 59) for the first time since winning at Texas on Jan. 5, and parlayed that with its most ball-secure game of the season, committing only 10 turnovers.
It was a good night, all around.
“Tonight was fun, and that’s what we were trying to do,” McFarland said. “We were trying to take a deep breath and go back to having fun because that’s what got us here and that’s what we were really thinking about.”
OU took it’s first 10-point lead 7:39 before the half and pushed the edge to 17 points before a buzzer-beating 3 from Brianna Craig brought the Wildcats within 32-21 at the break.
The Sooners pushed the lead all the way to 27 points with 4:23 remaining, just as Coale brought her starters — or all that she could with a nine-player roster — off the floor.
The Wildcats, led by Brittany Chambers’ 21 points and nine rebounds, closed on an 18-6 run to produce the final score.
A good night for the home team, it was also the calm before a Bedlam storm. OU visits No. 23 Oklahoma State Saturday.
Follow me @clayhorning
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