So many questions persist about the Oklahoma women.
They’re able to score in bunches, but can they defend?
They’re unafraid to push pace and make aggressive plays, but can they run against more athletic teams and can they attempt to make those plays without turning the ball over?
Those conundrums persist coming out of Wednesday’s 75-62 victory over Stephen F. Austin, tipped off Wednesday morning inside Lloyd Noble Center in front of several thousand elementary-aged school children from all over the state for OU's annual Field Trip Day.
Yet, for all of those uncertainties, one thing appears inalterably clear.
Sophomore guard Taylor Robertson can absolutely shoot the ball. And not like, oh-she’s-a-good-shooter shoot the ball, but that she can shoot it historically.
The best long-distance shooter in Sooner women’s hoops history prior to Robertson’s arrival from McPherson (Kan.) High School was, take your pick, Aaryn Ellenberg, who made 376 of 975, both program highs, for a 37.6 percentage, or Pam Pennon, who played two years, finishing up in 1996 with a 49.4 single-season percentage and a 41.7 percent career mark, both program bests.
Four games into her sophomore season, Robertson’s poised to blow both of them away.
Wednesday, she made 4 of 6 attempts from beyond the arc, bringing her season mark to 54.1 percent (20 of 37) and her career figure to 47.7 percent (125 of 262), which just happens to be ever-so-slightly better than the all-time best NCAA career mark, man or woman, of 47.6 percent (262 of 55) posted by Notre Dame’s Alicia Raday from 2000 to 2003.
The NCAA doesn’t recognize career marks until a player’s made at least 150, but Robertson could get their quickly and if she can do it at the same rate she’s managed since getting to Norman, she’ll literally be the best 3-point shooter in the history of college basketball.
After the game, Robertson appeared unaware of her historical prowess.
“That’s really cool,” she said, “but it goes back to all the work I put in throughout my whole life.
“Not just, like, for this season, like in the summer, but like going back to when I was little and growing up. All of that work.”
Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said Robertson’s “earned the right to make those baskets.”
“It’s like the 10,000-hour rule,” Coale said. “Eventually, that is so real that your belief — you don’t flinch … She has shot more than anybody on our team throughout her whole life.”
Wednesday, it was a barrage of 3-pointers that gave OU separation from SFA that would last the whole game.
The Sooners hit their first seven shots, among them five 3-pointers: two from Robertson, two from Ana Llanusa and one from point guard Kamryn Lemon.
OU would fall of its opening pace dramatically and eventually make just 41.7 percent (30 of 72) of its field goal attempts.
Still, Robertson, Llanusa and Lemon led, with the first two both finishing with a game-high 19 points and Lemon with 10 and four assists. Madi Williams finished with eight points and 16 rebounds.
Even as the Sooners slowed down, the Lady Jacks didn’t find their form until late.
At one point in the third quarter, they trailed the Sooners by 31 points, though SFA eventually outscored OU 44-29 after the half.
SFA got 18 points from Stephanie Visscher and 13 from Kennedy Harris.
The Sooners (3-1) play their first road game next, at Houston on Saturday.
The Cougars have split their first four games and haven’t helped themselves with a 3-point defense that allows 35.7 percent shooting from distance.
That could be good news for OU generally and Robertson specifically.
“She has a very special set of skills,” Coale said.
Thus far, historically special.
Need to know
The Oklahoma women are a on a roller coaster of their own making. In their previous game, they scored 37 points in the first quarter and 14, 18 and 21 in the three that followed, ultimately losing to Missouri State after leading by 20. Against Stephen F. Austin the Sooners made their first seven shots and led 19-2, then made 23 of 65 the rest of the way. They scored 28 points in the first quarter, but just 18, 15, 14 the rest of the way. At one point their lead reached 31 points, yet the final score was just 75-62.
• Evoking Amanda: Going back to last season, OU coach Sherri Coale liked to compare Madi Williams to former Sooner Amanda Thompson, who is now a grad assistant on staff. Williams is living up to that comparison four games into her sophomore season. She only scored eight points Wednesday, but grabbed 16 rebounds. She’s averaging 12.5 points and 12 rebounds.
• Kids’ game: Several thousand elementary-aged school children filled, or half filled, Lloyd Noble Center Wednesday. They screamed for made baskets most of all, louder for OU’s made baskets and loud-ish for SFA’s made baskets. And when they were asked to scream, as they were occasionally, it was a wonder players could hear whistles on the court.
More fans of being in the building, perhaps, than basketball fans or Sooner fans, they offered little to no reaction when OU’s defense created a turnover. Of course, that’s why wants OU coach Sherri Coale wants them in the building to begin with, to expose them to the game.
“Hopefully all those kids go home and tell their mom, dad, that ‘We want to go go back to an OU women’s basketball game because it’s so much fun,’” Coale said.
OU has recorded season-high turnovers in each of its last two games, 19 against Missouri State and 21 against SFA … Junior college transfer guard Kamryn Lemon recorded the game’s highest pus/minus number at plus 20 over her 26:36 of floor time. She and SFA’s Stephanie Visscher led everybody with four steals … OU outrebounded SFA 50 to 43.
— Clay Horning