Booster shot: Stevenson nails trey in OT for OU win
BY LYNN JACOBSEN World Sports Writer
Monday, March 29, 2010
3/29/10 at 7:26 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When in the same situation two years ago, Nyeshia Stevenson didn't take the shot.
This time, the senior from Little Rock, Ark., not only took it, she buried it, making her fifth 3-pointer of the game to lift third-seeded Oklahoma to a 77-72 overtime win over second-seeded Notre Dame at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday night.
Oklahoma (26-10) will play Kentucky (28-7) in the ESPN-televised regional final at 8:07 p.m. Tuesday.
"I actually turned the ball over trying to pass it (two years ago)," Stevenson said of the 79-75 overtime loss to the Irish in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. "It was one of those young things. I had Courtney and Ashley Paris and Danielle Robinson on my team, and I was trying to get the ball to them to knock down the shot.
"I played that back in my head. I know how much I ran from it my sophomore year. I was not going to (run from it) this year."
Fast forward to Sunday.
"The clock was winding down," Stevenson said. "I thought, if I'm not going to take the shot, who is? It felt really good to hit it. It was redemption for two years ago."
Stevenson scored the Sooners' final seven points of the game and finished with a team-high 21.
Fellow senior Abi Olajuwon also proved to be a difference maker for the Sooners.
Relishing the moment, Stevenson and head coach Sherri Coale embraced on the court after the game.
Coale said, "I told her, 'My, how you have grown up. Are you mature or what?' She was yelling right back in my ear, 'I'm mature, coach, I'm mature."
Olajuwon registered a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Her seven offensive boards were one shy of what Notre Dame (29-6) had as a team.
"At this time of the year, it's all about survive and advance," she said. "Danielle (Robinson) is a great penetrator and finisher and when her shots were flying every which way, I just had to focus on the rebound. As much as I am confident in our team's shots, I just had to pretend every shot was a miss. I've focused in practice on finishing everything. Today it paid off."
Coale was nearly at a loss for words to describe her emotions following the win.
"I don't get speechless very often, but I can't think of anything better to say other than I'm just really, really proud of this bunch of kids," she said. "I don't know that I have any words to express it. They've become a great team. They've bound themselves together. Their determination, their relentless work ethic and the way they care about each other is just special. That's why we're doing special things."
Amanda Thompson also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Robinson finished with 15 points.
Thompson said she was confident of Stevenson's big shot in overtime after Notre Dame's Melissa Lechlitner tied the game at 70.
"My role, even though I want (every shot) to go in, I'm thinking get the rebound, get the rebound," Thompson said. "I knew we had it before Ny even got the ball. I knew she was going to be open and I was going to get the rebound, but I am so happy that she made that shot."
Jasmine Hartman had two key 3-pointers, but it was her defensive mojo on Notre Dame freshman sensation Skylar Diggins, who was held to 10 points overall on 4-of-14 shooting, that pleased Coale.
"The thing Jas did right was guard Skylar, and the two or three from the 3-point line were gravy," Coale said.
"Based on the way Skylar has been playing of late, this would have to be one of (Hartman's) top two or three (best defensive games). She's committed as a defender, and she likes that. She relishes the opportunity to guard the opposing team's best perimeter player."
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Iowa State...... 36
Notre Dame..... 72
Miss. State...... 71
Baylor vs. Duke, 6 p.m. ESPN-25
Xavier vs. Stanford, 8 p.m. ESPN-
Up next: OU (26-10) vs. Kentucky (28-7)
8:07 p.m. Tuesday
Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
Lynn Jacobsen 581-8461
OU's Nyeshia Stevenson celebrates a 3-pointer against Notre Dame during Sunday's game. Stevenson hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left in overtime to give the Sooners the win. Stephen Pingry / Tulsa World
OU's Abi Olajuwon fights for the ball with Notre Dame's Ashley Barlow in Sunday's game. Olajuwon finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Stephen Pingry/Tulsa World