Women's basketball: Sooners advance to Sweet Sixteen
Marcin Rutkowski, The Oklahoma Daily
We’re going to Kansas City, Kansas City here we come.
OU women’s basketball clinched a spot in the Sweet Sixteen and Kansas City regional Tuesday night with a 60 to 44 win over University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
“We are thrilled to have our season continue,” Coale said. “We’re excited as can be to go to Kansas City and compete in the Sweet Sixteen.
In a game that saw low scoring and numerous turnovers, third-seeded OU pulled out the win over the 11th seeded Trojans.
The first four minutes of the game were marked by OU driving to the lane and UALR’s junior forward Chastity Reed hitting jumpers.
In a low scoring start, junior forward Carlee Roethlisberger came off the bench to provide fresh legs and offensive production. She had half of the Sooners points in the 12-8 lead with 13 minutes remaining.
“When Carlee came in she took the ball to the rim, I thought that was huge,” coach Sherri Coale said.
With the clock ticking under 8:40, senior guard Nyeshia Stevenson put the Sooners up 17-10 with a lay-up.
The first half was not the most efficient for either team.
OU averaged 16.7 turnovers a game during conference play, and Sooners almost matched the figure in the first half alone with 14. The Trojans bested OU by committing a total of 15.
First half was all about defense for both teams.
“Two good defensive teams battling each other,” said UALR coach Joe Foley.
During the defensive battle, neither team found the bottom of the net as the Sooners led 19-13 with five minutes left.
The Sooners finally cleared 20 at the four-minute mark when senior center Abi Olajuwon posted her sixth point of the half.
OU closed the half strong while the Trojans went cold around the basket. The Sooners headed into the half with a 28-13 lead.
OU finished the half shooting 50 percent from the field and out-rebounding UALR 18-13.
The second half opened to Olajuwon finding success under the basket for four quick points, and UALR pulled within 11 points but could not crack the lead any further for the time being.
Coale said Olajuwon had a big impact on the OU lead.
“I thought Abi was just fantastic,” Coale said.
Junior guard Danielle Robinson drained a jumper seven minutes into the game to put OU back up by 15, 38-23.
The Sooners maintained a lead throughout the second half, but could not pull away from UALR.
Senior forward Amanda Thompson picked up her 4th foul at 6:48 and sent the Trojans to the free throw line where they cut the lead to 44-34.
The ten-point lead was as close as the Trojans would get down the final stretch.
Olajuwon was the highlight on the Sooner stat sheet with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
“I really tried to focus on getting angles and finishing,” Olajuwon said.
Robinson added 13 points, and Stevenson put up 10 in the OU win.
OU finished the game shooting 49 percent from the field and totaling 12 bench points, nine of those coming from Roethlisberger.
Up next for OU is the Kansas City Regional where it will face No. 2 seed Notre Dame.
“Been a remarkable year, one that none of us are ready to be over,” Coale said.