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December 20, 2012

OU poised to recover

NORMAN — The Oklahoma women might be coming off their worst game of the season when it meets Cal-Riverside at 7 tonight inside Lloyd Noble Center.

Four days ago, against Vanderbilt, also at Lloyd Noble Center, the Sooners began the game by failing to guard the Commodores on one end of the floor while turning the ball over 15 times in the first half on the other.

And when the Sooners held onto the ball long enough to shoot it, they didn’t make it, hitting just 37.5 percent (21 of 56) of their shots and less than that (7 of 22) from 3-point land.

Coach Sherri Coale had reason to be plenty angry and her squad’s lack of first-half defensive detail did have her upset. Still, mostly, she was philosophical.

It was, after all, OU’s first game without Whitney Hand, who tore the ACL in her left knee one game earlier, Dec. 6, against North Texas. And while most observers understand how the Sooners will miss Hand’s experience and leadership and hustle and 3-point shooting, they may still not know what all of that entails.

“You know, Whit’s involvement in our offense (is) she’s always the guy making the first cut that sort of puts everything into motion,” Coale said. “So we’re now just looking around wondering who’s going to make that cut, who’s going to make that move.”

It seems like such a small detail, yet removing it from a team that had come to rely on details like that and it’s not small at all. Indeed, it can be paralyzing.

If OU adjusted — and it might have, turning the ball over only three times over the game’s last 18 minutes — it still did not get comfortable. The shots never did start falling, even after the Sooners quit giving the ball away.

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