From the left corner, junior forward Madi Williams caught the pass, and undeterred by a West Virginia defender’s late closeout, sank a 3-pointer to set a new personal career-high of 29 points.
Then, with nearly 23 seconds remaining in Sunday’s game in Norman, Williams drove to the basket and — nearly a quarter and a half after reaching her new career high — broke former Sooner legend Courtney Paris’ single-game program record of 43 points. From the tip, Williams was a force to be reckoned with offensively, leading the Sooners in scoring for nearly every quarter of the game and finishing with 45 points.
Williams was the lone bright spot in the Sooners’ (3-5, 0-3 Big 12) 90-72 loss to West Virginia (7-2, 1-2). Her scoring efforts have been a pivotal factor for the OU offense — she’s averaging 21 points per game — and will continue to be for the rest of the season. Williams’ performance Sunday wasn’t stellar by just OU standards either. She scored the most points in a game by any female player in Division I this season.
“I certainly don’t want it to get lost in the loss,” OU head coach Sherri Coale said after the game. “The unbelievably special performance by Madi Williams today, she was in the zone, and was a thing of beauty to watch and to coach. It was just a really special day on the basketball floor, and I’m proud of Madi. She’s worked her way into that. She earned a performance like that."
Williams’ offensive outburst might’ve been savored more had the Sooners won. But collectively, her teammates shot just 10-of-28 from the field and struggled to find any offensive rhythm the entire game. Junior guard Taylor Robertson — who’s had an incredible 3-point shooting season up to this point — could not find the basket on her four attempts, aside from a three late in the second quarter.
“As she knows, Big 12 Conference opponents are going to top lock her (Robertson) and never leave,” Coale said. “If she wants to get shot attempts, she’s going to have to screen and second cut. She’s going to have to move without the ball, and she sort of relied on going back to the ol’ hop around the 3-point line thing.”
Sophomore guard Gabby Gregory chipped in 13 points and five rebounds in an attempt to help Williams, but her efforts weren’t enough. For the most part, Williams was alone the entire game. If the Sooners hope to improve, they’ll need Gregory, Robertson and Williams all scoring consistently together.
Despite carrying the load Sunday, Williams credited her teammates for her amazing game, expressing confidence in their playmaking abilities and voicing hope for the future.
“I wasn’t trying to think too much about (my performance), because it felt like if you think too much about it you could kind of jinx yourself,” Williams said. “My teammates are the reason we’re here talking about it today. They did a good job facilitating, executing screens, and when things were going rough for me, they were willing to go get a bucket.”
Following the record performance from Williams, the Sooners will look towards the next game, as they are set to face Texas Tech at 6 p.m. CT Wednesday, Jan. 6 in Lubbock, Texas.