It's easy to say that No. 23 Oklahoma’s contest with No. 4 Baylor in Norman Monday was a chance to put a measuring stick up next to this year’s Sooners.
In the midst of an up and down season it seemed as though Sherri Coale’s crew was finding its identity offensively and starting to find ways to work around its inconsistincies and put together big wins. A win over then-No. 6 Texas in Norman was a step in the right direction. As Baylor descended on the Lloyd Noble Center it seemed like a good opportunity to see if this Oklahoma team was putting it all together or still figuring it out.
After 40 minutes of basketball the answer was clear.
OU missed 19 layups en route to a 78-70 loss that, for most of the game, was closer to a blowout than the score indicated. Oklahoma never had a lead, and the game was only tied for 12 seconds - the amount of time it took the Bears to score after the opening tip.
So, outside of a furious comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, in which OU cut the lead from 19 to two with a little under five minutes remaining, what was missing Monday?
“It's starting the game not afraid, it's starting both halves not afraid,” Coale said. “That's what it is. Playing with a sense of bravado, playing with some intensity, communicating with one another. That's what it is.”
Coale was clearly agitated by her team’s poor effort after the game, and the veteran coach wasn’t exactly sure what to do to remedy the situation so late in the season.
"All I know to do is keep coming to work every day, work as hard as we possibly can and keep showing up and stay after it, that's all I know to do,” Coale said.
Her players didn’t have any more answers than she did as to why, with two regular season games remaining, the team has yet to be able to turn in a strong effort for four complete quarters.
"That's a great question, because that should be something that you show up and have regardless, every practice and game,” Gabbi Ortiz said about the Sooners’ inconsistent intensity. “So we obviously don't have that and we need to keep working on it."
As Oklahoma wraps up its regular season and heads into the Big 12 Conference Tournament, Monday’s loss will remain in their consciousness - whether they want it to or not.
“I don't think you can leave it behind you,” Coale said. “Those things are unacceptable. Completely unacceptable."