The Oklahoma Sooners men’s basketball team may have bowed out early in the March Madness college basketball tournament, but the lady Sooners continue to roll, knocking off the UCLA Bruins 85-72 to advance to the Sweet 16.
The Sooners women’s basketball team entered their March Madness tournament as a six seed, so the win over the third seeded Bruins might be an upset, but no team coached by Sherri Coale is ever really an underdog. In her 17 years as the Sooners’ head coach, OU has won the Big 12 title 10 times and is in their 14th consecutive NCAA college basketball tournament.
This is the OU women’s ninth trip to the Sweet 16 under Coale’s leadership and they made it all the way to the Final Four in three of their past March Madness attempts. No disrespect to any other coach, but based on a level playing field, Sherri Coale might be the greatest coach in Oklahoma Sooners history, regardless of sport. She is at least in the Top 5 among names like Bud, Barry and Bob.
And this season, with a team that was supposed to be in a continued rebuilding mode, she worked a miracle once again. Earlier in the season, UCLA beat up OU in Norman, 86-80, out-rebounding the Sooners, 56-34. While the Bruins out-rebounded OU once again, the Sooners outscored UCLA 33-6 from three-point land, a huge difference maker in this game.
“I don’t know in my entire year of coaching if I have ever been more proud of what they’ve done. Their belief, their resilience and their perseverance all came to a head tonight. They were in sync with one another, determined and absolutely refused to lose that game.” – Sherri Coale
Aaryn Ellenberg scored 27 points and Joanna McFarland finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds in the big win. What is even better for the Sooner faithful is that the Sweet 16 is back in Oklahoma, as they head to the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City on March 31 to battle the second seeded Tennessee Volunteers.
“It’s very, very exciting to be going home,” McFarland said. “We’re 40 minutes away so hopefully we’ll have a very big fan base.”