On to Kansas City: Defense leads Sooners to Sweet Sixteen
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
3/24/10 at 9:57 AM
Related story: OU Women's Notebook: Substitution pattern.
NORMAN — Oklahoma beat Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday night by playing some of the most inspired defense Sherri Coale has ever coached.
Or by benefiting from some of the worst offense an opponent has ever played.
Debate the explanation if you want. The only thing the third-seeded Sooners care about is that their 60-44 rout of the 11th-seeded Trojans sent them into the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
The Sooners will face No. 2 seed Notre Dame on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Notre Dame was an 84-66 winner over Vermont Tuesday.
"We are thrilled to have our season continue and let our seniors' last game at the Lloyd Noble Center be a win," said coach Sherri Coale, whose Sooners improved to 25-10. "We're as excited as can be to go to Kansas City."
Said center Abi Olajuwon, whose 19 points and 11 rebounds led OU, "A win is a win. At the end of the day you have to grind it out and get a 'W.' That's what we did."
If you wanted smooth, you settled for the soft touch of Olajuwon. She scored most of her points on 5-foot turnarounds finished with flicks of her left wrist.
"I thought Abi was just fantastic," Coale said.
There was also a set play about 12 minutes into the second half. Olajuwon caught a pass in the left post. Danielle Robinson zipped down the baseline behind her. And one perfectly-timed bounce pass later, Robinson was swooping in for a reverse layup.
Everything else was bump and grind. Or grime.
The Sooners muddied things defensively by switching from man-to-man to a trapping half-court zone. That destroyed UALR's rhythm, resulting in a stat sheet that looked more like a disaster report.
The Trojans (27-7) shot 24 percent in a 13-point first half. They finished a fairly-respectable 37 percent for the game, but never made a 3-pointer. Sixteen shots went up beyond the arc, and 16 either clanked off or breezed by the rim altogether.
Kim Sitzmann, the shooting star of UALR's first-round upset of Georgia Tech, made one of her 13 shots and none of her nine 3-point tries. Chastity Reed scored a game-high 20 points, but struggled after a six-point start over the game's first two minutes. Reed had six of the Trojans' 20 turnovers.
"It wasn't just us missing shots," Trojans coach Joe Foley said. "Because of their quickness in their 1-3-1 (trap) they had people coming at us even when we thought we had open shots."
"Our defense was great," Robinson said. "We made them turn it over, and that's exactly what we knew we could do, turn them over."
The Sooners' shooting percentage was fine — 48 percent — and they made 13-of-15 free throws. But they also coughed up 22 turnovers and made just one of their seven 3-pointers.
Robinson helped Olajuwon with 13 points and Nyeshia Stevenson scored 10. But Amanda Thompson went just 3-of-9 from the field and starter Jasmine Hartman didn't attempt a shot.
"It was all us," Robinson said of the offensive woes. "Everybody just sped up (too much), starting with me. We could have gotten what we wanted, we just had to be more patient."
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NCAA WOMEN: (3) Oklahoma 60, (11) Ark.-Little Rock 44
(1) UConn...... 90
(7) Miss. St....87
(2) Ohio St.....67
(10) Vermont.. 66
(2) N. Dame.. 84
(8) UCLA....... 70
(4) Iowa St.... 60
(11) SDSU ...... 64
(3) W. Va........55
Guerin Emig 581-8355
OU's Abi Olajuwon drives to the basket by Arkansas-Little Rock's Marian Kursh during the Sooners' second-round NCAA Tournament win Tuesday in Norman. Olajuwon finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sooners into the Sweet Sixteen. Stephen Pingry/Tulsa World
OU's Danielle Robinson puts up a shot over Arkansas-Little Rock's Shanika Butler on Tuesday in Norman. Robinson finished with 13 points for the Sooners. Stephen Pingry/Tulsa World