It took Oklahoma 4:25 of game time to score its first points against North Texas Monday - two free throws from guard Peyton Little. By that time, the Sooners were already down 7-0.
OU took 1:10 longer to convert its first field goal, a three-pointer from fellow guard Derica Wyatt, one of the team’s three made shots from beyond the arc. North Texas led 10-5 then.
But Oklahoma (1-1) never caught the Mean Green (1-1), who walked out of Norman with a 61-57 victory. From the first to final whistles, the best coach Sherri Coale’s squad could do was tie the game twice late in the fourth quarter. However, turnovers and fouls squandered any chance the Sooners had at the lead.
“We just got really, really frustrated and then we panicked,” Coale said. “When you don't have energy, there's an abyss and in the abyss, tonight, grew panic from our team.”
The cure for panic? Taking the floor with energy, according to Coale, something OU didn’t do Monday.
“We weren't being the aggressor at all,” Little said. “North Texas came out and punched it right at us. I think it all starts in shootaround and preparing for the game. We didn't have a good shootaround. We came out here and turned the ball over right from the start.”
Coale could see her team’s lackadaisical manner in pregame. She could see it Friday against Winthrop in Oklahoma’s season-opener, as well.
“We've practiced beautifully but the two games, the shootaround prior to the game, we have not practiced well,” she said. “Today's shootaround had a lot of turnovers and it looked just like tonight.”
The Sooners began the game with a turnover in each of their first four possessions, finishing with 18 on the night compared to North Texas’ 23. Oklahoma’s giveaways, although fewer in quantity, came at more critical junctures in the game.
“That's where we got stunned. That's where the panic set in,” Coale said. “That's where your go-to guy goes and makes a play. You've got four-straight turnovers and somebody says, 'I've got this,' and they go make a play. We never had that tonight.”
As to how OU will go about avoiding panic for the rest of the season, Coale wasn’t sure where to start. Her squad isn’t young or inexperienced, after all, returning four starters from a season ago.
“The funny thing is, we've actually been so much better fighting through adversity than we have handling prosperity,” she said. “Tonight, we never could get that fight about us that we needed collectively.”