MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 10, 2013

No comeback for Sooners; Cowgirls fall to Baylor

By Clay Horning
CNHI News Service

— By Clay Horning

CNHI News Service



DALLAS – One game after the Oklahoma women turned in the most improbable and dramatic comeback victory in the Big 12 tournament’s history, the Sooners proved how futile falling behind by 19 points at the half tends to be as well as how fragile a team they can still be.

A day later, Sunday, against Iowa State, back inside American Airlines Center, there wasn’t even the hint of a rally as the Cyclones cruised by the Sooners 79-60.

OU couldn’t stop Iowa State defensively, allowing 46 percent shooting (29 of 63) shooting; couldn’t mount anything offensively, shooting 35.5 percent (22 of 62) from the field and 29.2 percent (7 of 24) from 3-point land; couldn’t stand up to the Cyclones on the boards, getting outrebounded 49-28; and couldn’t get to the free-throw line, making 9 of 12 less than 24 hours after earning 33 attempts against West Virginia.

OU coach Sherri Coale gave most of the credit to the Cyclones.

“How they’re not ranked,” she said, “I have no idea.”

The Cyclones did something on Sunday that West Virginia did not do Saturday: play a 40-minute game.

After trailing 41-22 at the half, the Sooners never got any closer than 18 in the second half.

“They manhandled us on the inside, had great poise on the perimeter, knocked down open looks. We didn’t do the same,” Coale said. “We didn’t come with the same aggression … They deserved to win the game and have a chance to play in the championship.”

Anna Prins, the Cyclone center with Brittney Griner-like size and a deft touch from the outside, finished with 32 points on 11 of 20 shooting and nine rebounds.

Chelsea Poppens, smaller than Prins yet more physical, added 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Hailey Christofferson added 10 and nine boards.

They dominated OU early on both sides of the court, scoring on one end and clearing the glass on the other.

“Their post players are really strong,” said OU forward Joanna McFarland, who finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. “They have a good mind about position. If you let them get deep, they’re going to score.”

OU could have used some help from leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg, but the junior shooting guard finished 3 of 16 from the floor and scored 11 points. Point guard Morgan Hook matched McFarland’s dozen to co-lead the Sooners.

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly likes the way his team’s playing heading into today’s championship game.

“We were a great team in a great environment and we’re excited to play (today),” he said.

It was the Cyclones’ third victory this season over the Sooners and Coale thought the performance might be unprecedented.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen them play any better,” she said.



Baylor ousts OSU in Big 12 semis

About 90 seconds remained when the other Brittney on the court at American Airlines center stole the ball from the Lady Bears a second straight possession.

The one before yielded a layup from Cowgirls’ point guard Tiffany Bias, creating a single-possession game in the final minute of Sunday’s opening Big 12 tournament semifinal at American Airlines Center.

Alas, Oklahoma State’s Brittney Martin’s swipe led only to the last of the Cowgirls’ 13 turnovers.

Jordan Madden hit a dagger 3 at the other end and that was that. Baylor pulled away in the final minute and prevailed 77-69.

Still, oh, what a show OSU provided.

Cowgirl coach Jim Littell said his program isn’t “into moral victories. Then he it abundantly clear it had just secured one.

“It’s something we can take forward the rest of this season and for years to come,” Littell said, “that we can play with a lot of people.

Projected to be a No. 6-seed headed to Spokane, Wash., when NCAA tourney bids come out, according to the latest installment of ESPN bracketology, the Cowgirls may well have helped themselves to be selected higher. Over two days in Dallas, they picked up a huge win over higher-seeded Texas Tech and took the nation’s clear No. 1 team to the wire.

“I think it’s a big pride factor and lot of heart,” Bias said. “You just have to go out there and play … I think the last few games we played (against Baylor) we played timid.”

Not this time.

The Cowgirls got 22 points and 11 rebounds from Toni Young, who may have distinguished herself most through here willingness to take on Brittney Griner straight up. Grinder finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds, but did, for a change, appear mortal trying to guard Young.

“I was having fun … She’s 6-8, you’re going to get blocked sometimes,” Young said. “You have to take your chances. I was having fun taking chances.”

– Clay Horning