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OU women's basketball: Sooners show poise, maturity in victory over UAB

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Junior guard Ana Llanusa, junior forward Mandy Simpson and sophomore guard Jessi Murcer move onto the court at the end of a timeout Nov. 4.

The Sooners defeated the UAB Blazers 82-75 in the second round of the Preseason WNIT on Sunday.

The Sooners' carousel of scoring was a tale of two halves Sunday afternoon. Sophomore guard Madi Williams was the hero of the first half but junior guard Ana Llanusa took over down the stretch.

Williams scored a career-high 24 points and added 13 rebounds. Eighteen of those points came in the first half.

“Now I’m starting to get a feel for being able to do something like that, and I think it's gonna be a really good thing for my team to keep playing like that,” Williams said.

“I thought we adhered to the game plan beautifully in the first half,” head coach Sherri Coale added. "Second half, they sucked us into the way they want to play. It’s a really hard thing to fight.”

After halftime, the Blazers focused putting more pressure on Williams, forcing somebody else to step up. Llanusa, who scored seven in the first half, answered the call with an 18-point second half. 

“I think I really fed off of Madi and (Taylor Robertson) today,” Llanusa said. “Madi was going crazy, defense and offense, both ways, and I really fed off of her.”

“She is a special athlete, and you couple that with the will and the effort that she displays when she plays, you get a number like this,” Coale said about Williams. “She didn’t shoot it worth a darn tonight, and she got like 25 points. You’re gonna have an off night and get 25, are you kidding me right now?”

Despite Williams and Llanusa’s efforts, a quick Blazer run punctuated by a pair of 3-pointers cut the Sooner deficit to just seven with eight minutes remaining. 

The Sooners answered with reenergized passion on both sides of the floors. Aggressive defense and relentless offense down the stretch locked up the win for the Sooners.

“After they made the run, our poise and our growing maturity were revealed,” Coale said. "We were solid down the stretch. Did a great job from the free throw line. That’s gonna be an important win for our team.”

OU plays next against the Missouri State Lady Bears in the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 14.

OU assistant coach Jackie Stiles served as an assistant on Missouri State’s staff for six years before being hired by OU.

“Missouri State was terrific last year,” Coale said. "They got basically everybody back, very experienced team. They have a different coaching staff, but we got somebody that knows their players pretty well.”

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