Women's Basketball: Sooners' new starting lineup to take on Northwestern State on Thursday
The OU women’s basketball team has been searching for something so far in the short season, something that junior guard Morgan Hook said they found at the Rainbow Wahine Showdown over Thanksgiving break in Honolulu.
“Playing together and playing with joy,” Hook said. “We hadn’t been playing like that in the previous games. These three games were fun; regardless of what was happening, all of us were having fun.”
The newfound discovery paid dividends for the Sooners, who swept their three opponents by an average of more than 22 points and won the tournament.
The Sooners will look to keep the energy up when they return to Norman at 7 Thursday to take on Northwestern (La.) State.
The Sooners (5-1) take on the Lady Demons (4-2) for the first time in program history.
NSU is led by senior forward Jasmine Upchurch and freshman guard Janelle Perez, who average 12.3 and 11.7 points per game, respectively.
OU will counter with junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg (16 points per game) and senior guard Whitney Hand (12.7 points per game).
The Sooners bring a recently revamped starting five to the court tonight, inserting freshman guard Maddie Manning and relegating senior forward Joanna McFarland to a backup role.
Coach Sherri Coale said the newest edition to her starting lineup earned her spot there and wasn’t just thrown in for a more favorable matchup.
“We competed and said whoever does the best job in practice this week is going to get the nod,” Coale said. “And [Manning] earned it, and she took advantage of it.”
Coale said Manning shined in her new role.
“We got her out of that level of thinking through everything,” Coale said. “We got her to the next level where she can use her instincts and her gifts. She played very well.”
Hook reiterated her coach’s sentiments regarding her new starting point guard.
“Maddie came out with confidence,” Hook said. “She hadn’t been playing very much, and then she goes straight to starting; it was good to see she didn’t look scared, and nothing intimidated her.”
Hand perhaps articulated most simply how Manning — who scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds in her debut as a starter — reacted to becoming part of the starting five.
“She’s a gamer,” Hand said.