, Muskogee, OK


February 2, 2014

OU women gear up for another big game

NORMAN – The Oklahoma women had just won their biggest game of the season and, simultaneously, were about 48 hours away from their next biggest game of the season.

They talked about a lot of stuff.

“This is just another opportunity for us,” center Nicole Griffin said.

It is at least that.

The Sooners (14-8, 5-4 Big 12) knocked off No. 11 Oklahoma State 81-74 Saturday in the season’s first Bedlam chapter. It was a game they had to have coming off a disheartening loss at Kansas State.

Today brings No. 9 Baylor (18-3, 8-1 Big 12), no longer with Brittney Griner making the game so unfair for the rest of the conference, yet still with Odyssey Sims who, at 30.2 points per game, is producing offense in a way Griner never produced.

There has been a two-steps-forward-one-step-back quality to OU’s season that has occasionally morphed into a one-step-foward-two-steps-back scenario.

Taking down the Lady Bears, who have lost only to No. 1 Connecticut and, sort of inexplicably, Kansas, would not be a couple of steps forward, but an absolute leap, very possibly leaving the Sooners a very different team as they encounter the rest of a difficult conference schedule.

“I think this can be a turning point for our season and we can just shock the world,” point guard Morgan Hook said about half an hour after dispatching the Cowgirls. “I think this can be a big (three-day) weekend for us. If we come and play like we did today and with a lot of energy, then I think we have a great shot.”

What that would look like on the floor might be similar and different to what happened at Bedlam.

Sharane Campbell was the star against OSU, going for 28 points on a day nobody else was really filling it up, though Griffin came on strong in the second half, posting 10 of her 14 points.

The challenge, just as it has been all season, is to get a game like that from Campbell and Griffin, but also get it from leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg, who’s averaging 19.6 points per game, but has netted just 26 total in her last two games.

Sooner coach Sherri Coale believes it’s a credit to her team that it keeps getting back up after getting knocked down, and if the Sooners can exhibit what’s propelled them back up against the Lady Bears tonight, they might just stay up.

“When we play with that immersion, that energy — that’s such a vaporous kind of word, but it’s real, it’s what ignites us — we’re really good, we’re really effective, there’s nothing we can’t handle,” she said. “When we don’t have it, we’re very average, we’re very mediocre.”

The energy required to play that way has hardly been a permanent fixture on the court this season, but “it’s happening more often than not,” Coale said.

That’s progress, and it’s made a big difference in a victory at then-No. 11 Iowa State Jan. 21 and two days ago when OSU visited.

Now it’s Baylor, on Big Monday, on ESPN2, back inside Lloyd Noble Center. Perhaps OU’s time has come.

“We’re a long way from home,” Coale said Saturday afternoon, “but this is another positive step.”

Beat the Lady Bears and the Sooners will be much closer, indeed.

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