NORMAN — The Oklahoma women want to believe they’re a top 10 team. Unfortunately, every time they get a chance to prove it, they fail.
Against then-No. 4 Louisville, they gave up a six-point lead over the final 88 seconds before losing in overtime. Against a good-but-not-great UCLA team, they were just plain bad in an 82-76 loss in Los Angeles.
The latest chapter came Sunday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center against No. 2 Duke. OU wasn’t supposed to win, yet nor was it supposed to play itself flat out of the game with a horrid first half.
The second-ranked Blue Devils beat the Sooners 94-85 and the remarkable thing was how easy OU made it for them.
In Sooner coach Sherri Coale’s estimation, her players missed some easy shots, had some things go wrong and before they knew it, were headed down a very bad path.
“We let it affect our psyche and it just started a downhill spiral,” she said. “That little spell in the first half when we turned it over, threw it out of bounds, kicked it out of bounds, threw it to them, was really the difference in the game.”
Duke never trailed, yet OU was within a point, 18-17, after point guard Morgan Hook’s layup 9:42 before the half. Between that moment and the moment Hook hit a running baseline jumper to beat the first half buzzer, the Blue Devils outscored the Sooners 28-8.
OU believes its issues were self-imposed. Duke believes it had plenty to do with it.
“We were making them work for all of their first half points,” said Duke guard Tricia Liston, who led the Blue Devils with 23 points, “and I think that kind of frustrated them a little bit.”
The rest of the game hardly mattered because of that one, dark 10-minute stretch, one that included most of OU’s 15 first-half turnovers and a bushel of empty possessions even when they weren’t turning it over..