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OU women's basketball: Sooners defeat UAB, advance to Preseason WNIT semifinals

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Ana Llanusa

Junior guard Ana Llanusa runs down the court during the Sooners game against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 8.

Oklahoma continued its hot start to the season with an 82-75 win over UAB in the second round of the Preseason WNIT on Sunday after opening up their season and the tournament on Friday with a 94-48 defeat of Prairie View A&M. 

Sophomore guard Madi Williams led the way for the Sooners with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Junior guard Ana Llanusa added 25 points and seven rebounds. 

Oklahoma advances to the semifinals to face the winner of Boise State and Missouri State on Thursday. 

Here are three key takeaways from the Sooners' win. 

Defense

Oklahoma’s defense continues to be the area to watch for this team.

The high-flying offense has never been a question for this team, even dating back to last season. If Oklahoma’s defense can make significant strides from last season, this team has a lot of potential in the regular season, and potentially, to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. 

OU showed flashes of the revamped defensive intensity and pressure that was promised. They also showed flashes of the sloppy, lazy defensive efforts that plagued them a season ago. But overall, their defense put them in a position to win the game, and you can't ask for much more than that.

Despite giving up 75 points, OU forced 16 turnovers, recorded 13 steals and held UAB to below 30 percent shooting in the second half.

This Oklahoma defense does not need to work miracles, they just need to get it done when it matters and the offense will take care of the rest. Today, the Sooners did just that. 

No threes, no problem

It was clear from the start that today’s Sooner offense would not be able to rely on the three-ball. Oklahoma shot 1-9 from deep in the first quarter followed by 1-of-6 shooting in the second. 

Much of Oklahoma’s offensive identity is derived from its ability to space the floor and threaten from the perimeter. Without that long-ball threat, Oklahoma’s entire offense is likely to suffer. But not today, as instead, Oklahoma adjusted and pushed the ball inside for most of the game, led by Williams who shot 5-of-8 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line in the first half. 

The interior pressure paid off, as UAB adjusted to Williams in the second half, Llanusa and sophomore guard Taylor Robertson found their stroke, each knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter. 

Head coach Sherri Coale’s ability to adjust, not only to her opponent but to her own team’s day-to-day tendencies, will prove to be crucial this season. But the Sooners’ execution of her plan is just as important. Today, they excelled, and it earned them a win.  

Finishing strong

With nine minutes remaining in the game, UAB senior guard Trista Magee nailed a deep three to cut the Sooner lead to ten points. Forty seconds later, she splashed a second three, lowering the deficit to seven — the lowest it had been since the second quarter. 

Without hesitation, Coale called a timeout. Her team had worked hard over the past two quarters to build a significant lead, and UAB was threatening to erase it completely. 

OU’s defense tightened up, allowing only one three for the remainder of the game. And on offense, the Sooners became more aggressive, drawing seven fouls in the remaining eight minutes. 

With the game in question, Oklahoma responded with intensity, focus and aggression. The Sooners are certainly maturing and, more importantly, they’re winning games. 

Oklahoma improved to 2-0 with the victory. They will face the winner of Boise State vs. Missouri State in the Preseason WNIT semifinals on Thursday.  

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