Imani McGee-Stafford and Chassidy Fussell combined for 31 points to help Texas beat their rivals
After a very solid first half, the Oklahoma Sooners found themselves frozen in the second half. Behind the Texas Longhorns starting the second half on a 21-5. That ended up with the Sooners ended up on the negative side of this contest, falling 82-72.
“At halftime they really reset themselves, Texas head coach Karon Aston said. “Which is a sign of a team that’s beginning to have terrific chemistry and growing up. By the time our coaches got in there, they knew exactly what they needed to do.”
For the Sooners, they were able to come out and hit the three-pointer early on. They were 8-of-16 in the first half from behind the arc. It helped the Sooners continually overcome the Longhorns pounding the ball in the paint. Texas had 10 points in the paint in the first half, and was able to get to the free throw line, shooting 9-of-12 from the charity stripe.
With Sharane Campbell going out early with two fouls, Gioya Carter and Derica Wyatt were thrown into the fire, competing tough. Carter, usually a turnover machine, committed just one turnover in the first half. The Sooners capitalized through the final couple of minutes, outscoring the Longhorns 11-4 down the stretch. That was capped off by the T’ona Edwards three-pointer at the buzzer. Oklahoma went into the locker room with a 6-point halftime lead.
Aaryn Ellenberg, playing in her last Big 12 Tournament game, struggled shooting the ball. The senior had 21 points on 7-of-19 shooting and 4-of-12 from three-point range. Morgan Hook scored 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting. Sharane Campbell had 12 points for the Sooners, despite having early foul trouble.
Texas was able to get a large lead of 60-48 with 9:09 remaining in the game. The Sooners had one last grasp in them, pushing it to the edge. The Sooners were able to cut it down to six points after Hook hit a three and Campbell hit a couple of free throws, as did Kaylon Williams hitting one herself. All of a sudden, the Sooners cut it to 60-54 with 6:50 remaining.
“We went for such a long period of time in the second half without being able to put the ball in the basket,” Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coal said. “Then we made some defensive mistakes. Then we made a flurry at the end, too little, too late.”
However, Chassidy Fussell hit a three, and Imani McGee-Stafford got to the line, then Fussell did. Just as quickly as the Sooners had cut into the heart of the lead, the Sooners found themselves down 69-58 with less than five minutes remaining.
McGee-Stafford was instrumental in the taking down of Oklahoma. She had 15 points and seven rebounds. She also blocked four shots. Fussell contributed 2-of-3 from three-point range, and had 16 points. Nneka Enemkpali had 10 points and 13 rebounds in the Longhorn victory.
“Well, I think we’ve done enough to get in. I do,” Coale said. “When you go 9-9 in the No. 1 RPI league in the country, I think you’re in.”
Oklahoma ends up at 18-14 with the loss and already on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. This puts this on the cusp of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997-98 season. It’s going to be a very nervous Selection Monday for this Sooners squad.
“We need to get back to the hotel and get our legs in some ice,” coach Aston said. “and get prepared for a really, really good basketball team. When you play West Virginia, you know first of all, that they’re going to play terrific defense and you have to match their competitiveness defensively and on the boards.”
After beating the Sooners and Oklahoma St. Cowgirls in to bring their win streak to four consecutive games, the Longhorns are riding a wave of momentum into the West Virginia game. Texas split their season series with the Mountaineers, both teams winning on their home floor. On Sunday, it’ll be for the right to play in the Big 12 Championship game against either Oklahoma State or Baylor Lady Bears.
For more on the conference’s tournament, check out our 2014 Big 12 women’s basketball tournament storystream.