Oklahoma wants to run, but that means getting defensive rebounds.
The Sooners want to get to the free-throw line, but that necessitates hitting the free tosses they earn.
Failing in that, OU doesn’t want to hurt itself, but that means taking care of the ball.
Execute none of the above and it leads to what happened Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center, where UCLA proved stronger, tougher and better, claiming an 86-80 victory over the 11th-ranked Sooners.
“There’s no excuse for it,” senior guard and team captain Whitney Hand said. “We weren’t in the right state of mind, and that’s evident in how the game went.”
It was close because OU staged a near-comeback for the ages, turning a 69-51 game with 9:57 remaining into an 80-78 game with 54 seconds remaining when Sharane Campbell broke free for a layup.
But the Sooners never had the ball with a chance to tie the game. Jasmine Dixon made two free throws to put UCLA up 82-78, and Morgan Hook followed with a blown layup on the other end.
Hook hit a reverse layup with 21 seconds remaining to make it 83-80, but the Sooners didn’t score again.
“We felt like we were going to get there,” OU shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg said. “We started making some baskets and we started playing little tougher.”
“Tough” may have been the word of the night.
Led by Sapulpa High School product Alyssia Brewer, who pulled down 16 rebounds — including seven off the offensive glass, UCLA claimed a 56-34 board advantage. Equally stunning, OU only had two more defensive rebounds (26) than UCLA had offensive rebounds (24).
That led to another very telling stat. The Sooners hit 43.1 percent of their shots and the Bruins hit 43.8 percent. But UCLA took 73 shots to OU’s 58, which had everything to do with the Bruins’ rebounding advantage.
“I’m disappointed with our effort and our response to the physical play,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “If that’s the way they’re going to play, then we have to adjust to it and we have to fight back and be just as physical as they’re being. … You don’t beat anybody when you give up 24 offensive rebounds. It’s a number that’s just unheard of.”
OU might have made some of the difference up at the free-throw line but hit only 19 of 31.
Though the Sooners took reasonable care of the ball in the second half, 12 first-half turnovers contributed to a 37-36 deficit. Had OU committed half that many, it might have led by 10.
As it was, the Sooners were trailing at the break, despite a fantastic first half from Ellenberg. The junior finished with a game-high 24 points, 20 coming in the first 20 minutes, when she canned all six of her 3-point attempts.
Hand added 19 points and a team-high six rebounds for the Sooners. Sharane Campbell and Nicole Griffin both finished with 12 points.
Point guard Thea Lemberger led UCLA with 18 points, but it was the Bruins’ front-line forwards that did the Sooners in: Markel Walker with 16 points, Brewer with 15 and Dixon with 11.
“That was one of our three keys to the game,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “To attack them inside.”
Of course, when that attack failed, the Bruins need not have worried. Another chance was only a rebound away.
Oklahoma wants to run, but that means getting defensive rebounds.
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
Cards fly into 3A State Tournament
Verdigris junior guard Cade Upshaw lives for March Madness.
The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Vinita eliminates Inola
Vinita used an 18-point third quarter — highlighted by the sophomore leadership of Carsyn Spurgeon — and converted 21-of-34 free throws to notch a 61-55 win over the Inola Lady Longhorns Saturday night in the Class 4A Area Tournament.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Stilwell advances to State
A jam-packed, vocal crowd — aided by the control of several Claremore Police officers — witnessed Stilwell’s come-from-behind 57-51 win over Harrah Saturday night in the must-win game of the Class 4A Area Tournament at the Claremore High School Gymnasium.
MLB: Furcal mounting comeback with Miami Marlins
Coming off surgery to his throwing elbow, Rafael Furcal showed the Miami Marlins he can still deliver a sales pitch.
After sitting out the 2013 season, the 36-year-old infielder met last fall with Marlins executives Mike Hill and Dan Jennings and convinced them he could be their second baseman this year.
NFL: Redskins, Cowboys released from salary cap jail
When the Washington Redskins were placed in salary cap jail by the NFL, Kedric Golston had to say goodbye to his best friend on the team.
For the past two years, the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys - otherwise rivals to the bitter end in the NFC East - have been constrained by a much-disputed ruling limiting how much money they could spend on players.
NFL: Jets release WR Santonio Holmes after 4 seasons
Tone Time is over for the New York Jets.
The Jets parted ways with wide receiver Santonio Holmes on Monday, cutting the talented but injury-plagued playmaker after four seasons.
The move, which had been expected, saves the Jets $8.25 million, which Holmes was due to make as his base salary this season. He was also scheduled to have a $10.75 million cap number, a lofty total for a one-time Super Bowl MVP who has struggled with injuries and inconsistency the last two seasons.
NFL: Seattle re-signs DE Michael Bennett
Free agent defensive end Michael Bennett is returning to Seattle after agreeing to a multi-year deal with the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
Terms of the contract were not immediately available on Monday. Bennett was considered one of the top free agents in the NFL after a breakout season with the Seahawks where he led the team in sacks and proved a versatile option as a defensive end and defensive tackle.
High School Basketball State Tournament Brackets
The Oklahoma High School Basketball State Tournaments will get under way this week in Oklahoma City and the Tulsa-Metro Area.
Below is a listing of the Class 3A-6A State Tournament Pairings.
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