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OU basketball: Lack of rebounding, stagnant offense upends No. 23 Sooners in loss to No. 12 Iowa State

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Jennie Baranczyk and the Sooners

Head coach Jennie Baranczyk and the Sooners during the game against Utah on Dec. 21.

To begin its game against Iowa State, Oklahoma strung together an 8-0 run and compiled another such run to begin the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately for head coach Jennie Baranczyk’s squad, that’s about all that went OU’s way, as the No. 12 Cyclones (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) snapped the No. 23 Sooners’ (12-2, 1-1) nine-game winning streak on Wednesday, leaving Norman with an 81-71 victory.

Iowa State won the game with a strong interior presence, eating OU alive in the paint. The Cyclones outrebounded the Sooners 46-37, with 16 of Iowa State's rebounds being offensive. Iowa State turned those offensive rebounds into nine second-chance points, nearly equal to OU’s margin of defeat.

“We didn't necessarily adjust to their interior game well enough or fast enough,” Baranczyk said postgame. “That’s what really hurt us. I think we could’ve gotten a few more rebounds than we did.”

Another problem for OU was its lack of creativity on offense. Following the loss of redshirt senior guard and second-leading scorer Ana Llanusa to a season-ending leg injury, executing Baranczyk's system, which requires everyone to contribute, is all the more important. However, that didn’t happen for OU against the Cyclones, as the offense largely went through one person: senior forward Madi Williams.

The Fort Worth native went 10-of-22 on shooting against Iowa State, scoring a team-high 26 points, 15 more than any of her teammates. Only one other Sooner, freshman guard Kelbie Washington, scored in double figures with 11 points. It’s the first time all season OU did not have three or more players score in double figures.

Both Baranczyk and Williams noted how stagnant the offense became during the game, with OU having six scoring droughts longer than two minutes. The longest OU scoring drought was three minutes during the second quarter.

“We could have done a better job setting each other up,” Williams said. “Getting some motion on the offense on the perimeter. I think that's when we're at our best, whenever we're moving and we're able to find each other and kick the ball out and find the shots. We were just overthinking it.”

Baranczyk agreed, stressing she and her team need to find ways to get everyone involved. Senior guard Taylor Robertson, normally a hot shooter, scored just eight points on 3-of-7 shooting. Skylar Vann, typically a reliable scorer off the bench, produced three points on 1-of-8 shooting.

“We can't just rely on Madi (Williams) to make plays,” Baranczyk said. “We've been at our best when we've had four, and even five people, in double figures. If we ever say, ‘Hey, Taylor (Robertson), you have to make threes’ or ‘Madi, you got to make every play.' That's not how we play.

“Did we get the shots that we wanted to get? I don't think so. I think we stood a lot around the perimeter and we need to be able to really get into that paint. We had 40 points in the paint, but a lot of that came off of fastbreaks … and off steals. We could’ve done a much better job of that.”

The Sooners will go on the road for their next game against Kansas (9-1) at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8 in Lawrence. They’ll hope to have junior guard Gabby Gregory back after she missed Wednesday’s game due to being in health and safety protocols.

After entering the AP Poll for the first time since 2017-18 and starting 12-1 for the first time since the 2006-7 season, OU hopes Wednesday’s loss is just a bump in the road.

“I can promise you, our team is going to be more excited to play the next time we step out on the floor,” Baranczyk said. “I don’t think we feel pressure, I just think that we’re overthinking. Our team's really good when we just play … I think we’re figuring that out.”

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