Transcript Sports Writer

As the saying goes: What a difference a day makes.

Saturday, Carolyn Winchester found out the old adage remains true today.

Friday, the Washington star was sitting down to eat lunch while on a mini-family vacation in Dallas. Then the phone rang.

The call was an invitation to play the next day in the Oklahoma-Texas All-Star Classic at Lloyd Noble Center.

"Oh my, yes!" was Winchester's quick response.

Needless to say, she didn't finish her meal. The Winchester clan was headed north to Norman on I-35 quicker than a Texas jackrabbit.

Saturday, Winchester and her Oklahoma teammates dominated the second half ? especially the last three minutes ? to win going away, 81-71, over the girls from the Lone Star State.

The victory evened the renewed series at two wins apiece. The home squad has won all four games. Next year, the Classic will be staged at Texas Tech's United Spirit Arena.

The fourth annual event might be dubbed "The Earnesia Williams Show." The 6-foot phenom from Sapulpa lived up to her billing as one of the top recruits in the nation by leading all scorers with 29 points.

Williams was unstoppable down the stretch. She gave Oklahoma the lead for good at 72-71 with 2:50 remaining via a pair of free throws.

Before the buzzer sounded, Williams had downed three more charities and a pair of baskets as Oklahoma tallied the final 11 points to make the win look easier than it was.

Williams' clinching bucket came on a length-of-the-court pass from Norman High's Taylor Hardeman on an out-of-bounds play.

With Oklahoma on top by four at the 1:25 mark, Williams caught Texas napping. Standing just inside the mid-court stripe, she took two steps forward and then wheeled to jet full-speed toward the Sooner State goal.

Hardeman picked up on the ploy and launched the ball to Williams, who scored easily to make it 77-71.

"Earnie and I knew what we were going to do," Hardeman said. "She looked at me and I looked at her. When she took off, all I had to do was get the ball to her."

Hardeman, a key member of Norman High's Class 6A state championship club last March, totaled just four points but was invaluable with her passing and defensive duties.

Winchester also proved her worth with her performance against Texas' highly-touted offense. As she did in high school when she helped the Lady Warriors to a pair of state titles, Winchester held her own in the lane against the taller Texans.

Her lone basket came midway in the first half, which gave Oklahoma an 18-11 edge, which would be the Sooner Staters' largest lead until they poured it on at the end.

"I admit, I was nervous," Winchester said. "To get to play in a game like this is really exciting. I've heard about (her Oklahoma teammates) all my life. Then to meet them, they're not just great players but they're great people. This will be a fond memory I'll have the rest of my life."

Hardeman echoed the same sentiments, saying, "We didn't have much time together (one practice on Friday) but we really bonded as a team. That's probably why we won. We played together."

Summer basketball is not quite over for Hardeman nor Winchester.

Hardeman, who is headed to Oklahoma State, and Winchester, who will be a walk-on at Oklahoma, will soon be in Tulsa where they will compete Wednesday in their respective All-State games.

Behind Williams, Katie Birch of Anadarko, who hit a couple of much-needed field goals early in the second half to jump start Oklahoma's comeback, finished with 11 points while Kenzie Glover added 10.

Eboni Mangum of Fort Bend Dulles topped Texas with 19 points while Takia Starks of Spring Westfield added 12.

Lynn Garnand 366-3537 lgarnand@normant

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