Oklahoma forward Whitney Hand (25) puts up a shot against Marist.

Coming into Wednesday night’s contest with Marist, the Oklahoma women might have gladly taken a 19-point win. But with about 6 minutes to play, the Sooners’ effort left coach Sherri Coale wanting more.

“I just thought in the second half we were absolutely floundering and playing uninspired,” she said moments after what ultimately became an 83-57 OU victory.

Marist went 18-0 in the MAAC last season and the Red Foxes are a unanimous choice by Metro Atlantic coaches to win their sixth straight regular season conference title. But none of that had OU feeling very good about its 65-46 lead with 6:07 to play.

Perhaps a strong showing in a vaccum, but not so much after the Sooners scored 17 of the game’s first 19 points and led 43-17 at the half.

“We didn’t come out in the second half the way we need to,” said Sooner center Courtney Paris, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. “It was good to have a few minutes to fix things up at the end, but we have to play better. We have to play 40 minutes.”

As much as they could, the Sooners did “fix things up at the end.” It was at that 6:07 mark that Coale returned to her starting lineup and the Sooners went on a 13-3 run to reestablish their largest lead of the game at 30 points.

With No. 1 Connecticut on tap Sunday night at Gampel Pavilion, the Sooners might have rescued a little momentum before heading east.

“It was real important,” Paris said.

Before the sleepwalking and awakening it was the Sooner show starring Whitney Hand.

The freshman guard finished with 20 points to lead both teams. Her 3 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc, including a rare four-point play, gave OU a shot in the arm from the outside that’s been missing most of the early season. Sixteen of Hand’s points came in the first half when the Sooners grabbed a 15-point edge almost immediately before building on it the rest of the half.

“I think it was the fact that she really wanted the ball after how poorly she shot it against North Carolina,” Coale said. “She came out of the gates wanting the ball, wanting to make something happen.”

Beyond Hand, clear as a bell was the Sooners’ athletic edge. The Red Foxes, a good team that’s receiving Top 25 votes, appeared not to belong on the same court.

“I do think it was our speed and athleticism that completely rattled them,” Coale said. “They missed some shots early on that they don’t typically miss. I think they were just wound up trying to go too fast.”

The Red Foxes got 17 points from Rachele Fitz and 10 from Erica Allenspach.

“I thought our kids did a decent job in the second half,” Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. “When they had nothing to lose, they played a little tougher.”

The Sooners got 17 points and eight assists from Danielle Robinson. Ashley Paris, with 14 points and 10 rebounds, recorded her third straight double-double.

Clay Horning



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