NORMAN — With the way Oklahoma State’s star duo was playing, Oklahoma needed a strong offensive effort to clinch a Bedlam sweep.
That didn’t happen. And there was no comeback this time.
OSU’s Natasha Mack and Vivian Gray took over in the second half and finished off the Cowgirls’ 73-69 victory Tuesday over OU at Lloyd Noble Center.
Mack finished with a monster game inside with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
Gray scored 10 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter, thwarting any chance OU might stage a furious rally like it did in the teams’ first meeting.
Ana Llanusa scored a game-high 26 points for the Sooners, but with guard Taylor Robertson suffering through a cold spell, OU’s fate rested on how well it could guard OSU’s two best players.
It wasn’t anywhere good enough, and Robertson — the nation’s leader in 3-point shooting — finished with 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting from the 3-point line.
Madi Williams added 19 points for OU on a night she and Llanusa composed most of the offense. Six other players who saw the floor were a combined 8 of 28.
“We didn’t move. We were just stagnant. We just stood,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “We got some good looks for T-Rob early in the game and they didn’t go in, and it was like we just panicked. We’re so much better than that. It was disappointing because that’s not how we play in practice every day.”
Llanusa echoed that statement. Williams was even more direct.
“I think sometimes we rely too heavily on T-Rob making shots. That might be one of the reasons we stand so much on offense,” Williams said. “And whenever she isn’t shots, we’re all standing and it’s one big ball of nothing. I think we need to work harder and figure out how to play without her making shots.”
Mack took over in the third quarter for OSU, scoring six points in a 7-0 run that helped seize control of the game. The Cowgirls went into the fourth quarter with a lead and extended it to 54-44 with points on its opening two possessions.
It was too much for OU to overcome.
Ja’Mee Asberry spent much of the night successfully chasing Robertson on the defensive end.
“[Robertson] beat us at our place. We did a really good job [tonight],” OSU coach Jim Littell said. “She was 2-for-10 and one of them was hurried off the glass. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how good a job that Ja’Mee did on her.”
OU (12-12, 5-7) leaned heavily on Williams in the first quarter as she scored nine of the first 18 points, giving the Sooners a two-point lead.
OSU went up 26-21 midway through the second quarter as OU went cold from the field. The Cowgirls were shooting 50 percent by that point, while the Sooners were 8 of 22 (20 percent).
Down six with the first half winding down, OU closed on a 12-2 run. Or rather, Williams and Llanusa did — they were responsible for every point in that stretch.
OU’s lead was as big as 42-35 at the 5:47 mark in the third quarter, but from there, OSU’s leading duo took over and the Sooners had no answer on either end of the floor.
That hurt for a team that prides itself on scoring.
“It’s very frustrating,” Llanusa said. “We work on these things every day in practice and do such a great job. If you watch our practice and watch that game, it’s not the same team. It’s disappointing when we go out and play like that."
Clitan de Sousa scored 15 points for OSU, including three baskets in transition over the final six minutes that helped prevent another historic comeback.
Back in January, OU reeled off a 16-1 run to beat OSU in Stillwater.
“I thought in the second half our movement, our screening, our taking the ball to the action wasn’t what we needed it to be,” Coale said. “Again, I don’t want to take anything away from them because I think they did a good job on [Robertson]. But I think we did a lot of those things to ourselves.”
NEED TO KNOW
Long-distance shooting is a key component to Oklahoma’s success, and Taylor Robertson has fueled most of that this season.
Robertson scored 11 points in Tuesday’s 73-69 loss to Oklahoma State. She finished 2 of 10 from behind the arc and has missed 22 treys the past three games.
OU coach Sherri Coale was asked if the struggles are part of a deep shooting slump, or if teams have figured something out defensively against Robertson, who is the nation’s leading 3-point shooter.
“Probably a little bit of both. She’s having to work so hard to get opportunities every single night. Then she becomes human,” Coale said. “I looked at her percentage over the last few games before tonight and it was 36, and it feels like it’s 20 because of what we expect from her. But 36 is a pretty good number for most people. She’ll come back out of it.”
• Voice of reason: Coale’s words came out soft and raspy due to a recent illness that caused her to lose her voice.
That made things difficult during the game. But she was still seen doing as much yelling and instructing as possible.
“Very frustrating tonight,” Coale said, “because I use my voice for their energy and to convey energy. It was very frustrating. But what are you gonna do?”
• Recognition: Before the game Coale was honored for earning her 500th career win recently. Ana Llanusa was also recognized for joining OU’s 1,000-point club.
Coale earned the mark Feb. 2 at Kansas. She’s the 80th coach in Division I women’s basketball to reach 500 wins.
Llanusa reached 1,000 points last week against West Virginia. She’s the 36th player in program history to achieve the mark, but has done it despite injuries the past two seasons.
She has missed six games this season and was out for 10 a year ago.
• Tip-ins: Madi Williams was the only Sooner to play all 40 minutes. … OU shot 7 of 18 in the fourth quarter (38.9 percent). … The teams were an even 36-36 on points in the paint. … Next, OU hosts Kansas State at 2 p.m. Sunday.