BKW OKLAHOMA TEXAS TECH

The Oklahoma bench cheers, Monday, Jan. 22, 2007, after senior forward Erin Higgins hit a 3-pointer to tie Texas Tech at the end of regulatioin of a Big 12 conference game in Lloyd Noble Center. Transcript photo by Jerry Laizure

• Two overtimes needed to decide things between OU, Tech



Oklahoma’s turnover problems are bound to cost the Sooners a game sooner or later. But Monday night at Lloyd Noble Center was not that night.

Instead, thanks to Krista Sanchez’ ability to settle the game, Erin Higgins’ marksmanship and Kendra Moore’s flair for the dramatic, the Sooners overcame Texas Tech 86-81 in double overtime to push their winning streak over Big 12 opponents to 25 games.

A year ago, at Baylor, Moore hit the three biggest shots of her life to take down the Bears.

Against the Red Raiders, it wasn’t so much the shots she took as the game she took over.

Though it was Britney Brown who iced the victory, knocking down three of four free throws over the final 9 seconds, it was her back-up, Moore, almost solely responsible for having the Sooners being in any position to win the game.

After Erin Higgins’ 3-pointer from the right side forced the game into extra time, knotting the score 68-68, it was Moore who scored all seven of OU’s points in the first extra frame and 13 of the Sooners’ 18 in both extra frames.

Starting the game on the bench, Moore finished with 20 points, four assists and five steals. She played 36 minutes and never left the court after the first of three should-be final buzzers sounded.

“I took the ball to the hole a couple of times and I realized they weren’t going to guard me, so this little birdie on my shoulder with a blue shirt told me to keep going to the rim,” said Moore with a nod to Sooner coach, Sherri Coale, who was wearing a shiny blue shirt. “So I kept going to the rim and they couldn’t stop me.”

The Sooners came back from a second-half deficit for the fourth time since conference play began to move to 16-1 on the season and 6-0 in the Big 12. Texas Tech, under first-year coach Kristy Curry, fell to 12-8 and 3-3.

“It is not a moral victory,” Curry said. “We expected to win.”

OU survived despite 21 turnovers — only two in extra time — and 40.8 percent (29 of 71) shooting against Tech’s 44.3 percent (31 of 70) accuracy. The difference was at the free-throw line, where the Sooners earned 31 trips, hitting 24, while Tech hit 11 of 14.

Sanchez played only 11 minutes and finished with an official stat line of one rebound, one foul and zeroes everywhere else. On the other hand …

“Krista’s minutes were absolutely huge. She calmed the storm.” Coale said. “We couldn’t get in any kind of a rhythm offensively and she came in and calmed everybody down and gave us a cadence.”

What Sanchez did was spark a 15-7 run that took OU from a 42-42 tie to a 57-49 lead. Without getting an assist, she still set up Leah Rush for six points by getting her the ball where she had room to operate. More importantly, the Sooners committed only one turnover during the run, with Sanchez running things like a point forward.

Texas Tech came back with big shot after big shot, but without Sanchez’ poise, the Sooners lose.

“I’m just proud of being part of a team where all of our seniors come out and we go to double overtime and we win it,” said Sooner center Courtney Paris, who finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds, but made only 9 of 24 shots. “I mean, I didn’t score a point (in overtime).”

Tech placed five players in double figures, with Alesha Robertson’s 20 points leading, followed by Jordan Murphree’s 17, Raquel Christian’s 14, Chesley Dabbs’ 13 and Patrice Edwards’ 12.

Chelsi Welch added 15 for the Sooners and Ashley Paris added 10. Both Rush and Higgins finished with eight.

“It was just resilience,” Coale said. “Survival of the fittest.”

Clay Horning366-3526cfhorning@normantranscript.com

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