Oklahoma basketball: Sooner women bow out of NCAA Tourney with loss to No. 4 Indiana

Oklahoma's Skylar Vann (24) shoots past Indiana's Sydney Parrish (33) during second round NCAA Women's Tournament action in Bloomington, Indiana.
Oklahoma's Skylar Vann (24) shoots past Indiana's Sydney Parrish (33) during second round NCAA Women's Tournament action in Bloomington, Indiana. / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY

The road to Cleveland and the NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four came to a dead end for the women's Oklahoma basketball team on Monday night.

The No. 5-seeded Sooners fell to No. 4 Indiana 75-68 in the second round of the NCAA Women's Tournament. Oklahoma had to battle two elements in the game. Not only were the Sooners matched up with a very good Indiana team that has won 26 games and lost only six, but the game was played at Assembly Hall on the Indiana campus in Bloomington in front of a heavily partisan Hoosier crowd.

Despite the distinct disadvantage, Oklahoma led for over 26 minutes in the game and held the lead with under three minutes to go but couldn't hold on down the stretch.

The Sooners led 64-60 with 2:41 left to go in the fourth quarter when Indiana star Mackenzie Holmes went to work adding to her game-high 29 points. The two-time All-American scored the next six points to give the Hoosiers a 66-64 advantage that they failed to relinquish the remainder of the game.

Seven of the final nine points scored by Indiana came on free throws, all coming in the final 30 seconds when the Sooners were forced to foul to extend the game. Otherwise, the difference probably wouldn't have been as large as the final score indicated.

Big 12 Co-Player of the Year Skylar Vann led Oklahoma with 20 points and eight rebounds. Aubrey Joens had 16 and freshman Sahara Williams added a dozen.

OU head coach Jennie Barancyzk didn't use the partisan crowd as an excuse for the Sooners not coming out on top in the game.

"I think Indiana beat us, not necessarily just the crowd beat us."

Oklahoma head coach Jennie Barancyzk

"We knew the crowd was going to be really intense," Vann said in the postgame press conference. "I think we did a good job playing through it. And I think we had some shortcomings, but I mean we gutted it out. I don't think anyone can disagree with that."

So the Sooners finish the 2023-24 season the same way they ended the previous season, bowing out in the second round of the NCAA Women's Championship as a No. 5 seed. Last season, it was an 82-73 loss to UCLA in Los Angeles.

Oklahoma ends the season, its third under Barancyzk, with a 23-10 overall record.

Takeaways from the Sooners' heartbreaking NCAA Tournament loss

  • Despite Indiana's strong interior defense, Oklahoma was able to get inside pretty much at will and score 38 points. The Sooners turned 17 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points (Indiana had just eight second-chance points. The Oklahoma bench players came through with 25 points. The Indiana reserves totaled just one point.
  • Oklahoma led in the game for 26:12; Indiana led for just under seven and a half minutes. There were 10 ties in the contest and 21 lead changes.
  • The Sooners were tied or led at the end of the first three quarters. Indiana, however, took control in the fourth quarter and outscored OU 29-20. That proved to be the difference in the game.
  • The Hoosiers outscored Oklahoma 15-4 in the final two minutes and 41 seconds of the game. During that fateful stretch, the Sooners shot one for seven from the floor and committed two costly turnovers.