By MICHAEL KINNEY
NORMAN — Oklahoma had designs of heading into the new year on a roll. Riding its longest win streak in five seasons, all it needed to do was get past Louisiana Tech and it would begin 2014 on a high note.
Unfortunately for the Sooners, the Bulldogs had other ideas. They stormed into Norman and stunned OU 102-98 in overtime at Lloyd Noble Center Monday.
“It’s a disappointing way to finish the non-conference portion in terms of not getting the result we wanted,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought Louisiana Tech did a great job and certainly made the plays they needed to win a ball game on the road. We have to learn from it.”
After watching its 13-point first-half lead evaporate, Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark cut Tech’s lead to 83-81 with a pair of free throws with 1:04 left in regulation. After the Bulldogs (11-3) came up empty on their next possession, the Sooners (11-2) got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Kruger called a timeout with 17.4 seconds left. He put the ball in Clark’s hands and he was fouled after driving to the basket. He made 1 of 2 from line and OU trailed by one.
The Bulldog’s Kenneth Smith made two from the charity stripe to push the lead to three. With only 9 seconds left, the Sooners’ Jordan Woodard shot a 3-pointer that was off the mark. Clark came down with the rebound. He drove out to the corner, where he leapt off the ground and threw up a 3-pointer that was all net as the buzzer sounded to send the game into overtime.
“Jordan shot and I knew we needed a three to tie, so I got the rebound” Clark said. “I thought about going for two, but went to the three and was able to knock it down.”
Sooners led 95-93 with 1:27 left in the extra period. Woodard was fouled and hit 1 of 2 to push the lead to three. Tech’s Alex Hamilton hit a short jumper to cut the lead back down to one. Ryan Spangler missed a 3-pointer from the corner and the Bulldogs turned it into two free throws that gave them a 97-96 lead with 39.7 remaining.
Woodard’s shot to give OU the lead was short, and Isaiah Massey got the board and was fouled. He missed 1 of 2 to keep the Sooners’ hopes alive.
With 16 seconds left, OU went back to Clark, hoping he could produce the same heroics again. But this time he turned it over on his way to the basket. Hamilton hit two free throws to put the contest out of reach.
“Cam has been really good at attacking the rim,” Kruger said. “Getting the ball to the paint. He’s a tough matchup in that way. He’s had some success. He didn’t get it done on that occasion. But we like having the ball in Cam’s hands at that point and seeing if we can make a play.”
Clark led the Sooners with 26 points on 8-for-19 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. Spangler added 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The Bulldogs were paced by Hamilton, who led all scorers with 31. Raheem Appleby chipped in with 22 points.
The loss snapped the Sooners’ seven-game win streak. It had been the longest for the program since the 2008-09 season when they had separate win steaks of 12 and 13 games.
“It’s big,” Clark said, “but I think it will be a great learning experience for us. They say a loss will teach you a lot of things. We are just going to get back to the gym, work on things like defense. And just be tougher.”