NORMAN — Ana Llanusa’s layup careened off the glass, missing the rim and thudding directly into Mandy Simpson’s hands like a piece of good fortune.
Simpson pushed the ball off the backboard and through the net for two points that effectively ended the longest losing stretch for Oklahoma women’s basketball in two decades.
“I knew Mandy was going to be there,” Llanusa said. “She was rebounding really hard all night.”
OU led the entire second half in its 78-67 victory over Kansas, which halted the Sooners’ 10-game losing streak — its longest since the 1996-97 season.
In the process, some anguish faded Wednesday at Lloyd Noble Center. Llanusa, who scored a team-high 21 points, broke into a dance at midcourt when the score went final.
“Well, it feels good to have more points than the other guys, I can tell you that,” OU coach Sherri Coale said.
Kansas was as close as three points near the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter but trailed 71-64 after Simpson’s tip-in seemed to end it with 58 seconds left. She and Llanusa exchanged smiles while running the other way.
“When [Simpson] finished that shot, it was a turning point,” Llanusa said. “It felt good.”
OU turned the ball over 20 times, but shot 49.2 percent from the field and was an efficient 5 of 11 from 3-point range. Freshman forward Madi Williams poured in 18 points off 7-of-15 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds to complement Llanusa.
Four Sooners reached double figures: Jessi Murcer scored 12 points and Taylor Robertson added 10. OU made 29 field goals off 14 assists.
“Overall, I thought our ball movement was really good, especially between [Williams and Llanusa],” Coale said. “There were several backdoor plays between both of these and with Mandy as well.”
OU led 18-12 in the first quarter after a floater from Murcer, which was the Sooners’ sixth straight make. But Kansas reeled off 10 consecutive points to push ahead 24-19 early in the second quarter.
OU regained momentum with an 11-0 run and led 30-24 after Williams knocked down a short jumper. The Sooners were up 35-30 at halftime after shooting 60 percent from the field — one of their few strong starts in Big 12 play.
The finish wasn’t bad, either. Kansas trimmed the lead from 10 to single digits several times in the second half.
“Execution and rebounds, that’s what I liked the most,” Coale said. “The third quarter was so strange. We went up 10 or 11 twice and there were five minutes left in the quarter … We’re scoring like crazy and we’d stump our toe a little bit and they’d score.
“The biggest difference was, whenever they made a big play instead of deflating and going all the way down the mountain, we just stumbled a little bit and went back at it. Whereas in previous games if something bad happens … We’d slide all the way back down. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Kansas leading scorer Jessica Washington returned after missing three games, but went 2 of 11 from the field and finished with eight points. Austin Richardson scored 17 points for the Jayhawks (12-11, 2-10 Big 12).
OU (6-17, 2-10 Big 12) can move forward with a load off its shoulders. Llanusa, Williams and Coale stepped lightly into their postgame press conference, with a good story to tell.
“It feels really good,” Llanusa said.