To be perfectly candid, we’ve been lamenting a lot, with prejudice, about the state of Sooner men’s basketball this season. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma women’s basketball team keeps rolling right along, winning three out of every four games, on average.
I ran into a longtime Sooner fan the other day who. like yours truly, has gone westward for the winter. I mentioned to him how difficult is has been this winter to see the Sooner men’s struggles and growing pains on the hardwood. He looked at me with a “are you kidding me?” expression on his face, then proceeded to inform me that no one really cares about OU basketball when football upholds its rightful and proud position as king of Sooner athletics.
Well, believe what you will, but the truth is, fans of Oklahoma athletics are like sports fans everywhere. They like winners. And let’s face it, this is a rebuilding year in basketball for the OU men. The Lady Sooners, however, are not in rebuilding mode. They are in more of a quasi maintenance mode, and that means winning many more games than they lose.
Head coach Sherri Coale has her team at No. 20 in the Coaches Poll and, at present, with a firm hold on third place in the Big 12 with a 7-2 record. The Sooner women are 16-5 overall and coming off of an impressive 15-point win over Iowa State at home at Lloyd Noble Center on Wednesday night.
Maddie Manning led an Oklahoma attack that featured four players, and nearly five, scoring in double figures. Manning had 21 points for the Sooners, and she was joined in double digits by Peyton Little (16), Vionise Pierre-Louis (15) and Gabbi Ortiz (14). Gioya Carter contributed eight points.
This balanced scoring distribution is the kind of team effort that has been present all season for the Lady Sooners and has provided a winning advantage in all but five games. What this also means for OU’s opponents is the difficulty to concentrate on any one player, because the Sooners have multiple offensive weapons that can hurt you.
In the win over Iowa State, Oklahoma jumped out to a 23-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Cyclones slowly whittled the Sooner lead down to five points after three quarters, but OU closed it out with a 10-point scoring advantage in the final quarter.
The Sooners’ Little, Manning and Ortiz combined on 10 out of 20 three-point field goals, and for the game the OU women shot 50 percent from the field.
“I thought we played with the right tempo, and we could see what was available. The game is much easier when you do that.” –OU head coach Sherri Coale on her team’s 15-point win over Iowa State
The Sooners largest lead against Iowa State was 17 points, and they led in the game for all but three minutes and 15 seconds. The Cyclones briefly held the lead on two different occasions in the game, but only for a little over a minute total.
“I thought we could see,” said Sherri Coale when asked about the Sooners’ offensive balance after the win over Iowa State. “I know that sound crazy, but I thought we played with the right tempo, and we could see what was available. “The game is much easier when you do that.”
Oklahoma is now 11-1 this season at home and a perfect 5-0 in Big 12 action.
The Lady Sooners face their stiffest hurdle of the season this weekend, when they go to Waco, Texas, to take on the No. 2 ranked Baylor Bears. The Baylor men and women are a combined 39-2 this college basketball season.
Saturday’s game with Baylor is the first of two between the two women’s teams in the regular season. The same two teams will match up again in Norman in the regular-season finale.
The only loss by the Baylor women this season was to UConn, a team that has won over 90 consecutive games and an unheard of 133 of its last 134 contests.