Tahlequah Daily Press

January 24, 2014

OU women, TCU look to keep winning ways going

By CLAY HORNING
CNHI

— Do it again.

Not only is that the challenge of the Oklahoma women tonight at Lloyd Noble Center, but it’s the challenge of their opponent, TCU, too.

The Horned Frogs (12-6, 3-3 Big 12) are riding one of their biggest wins in recent program history, having knocked off Texas earlier this week in Austin.

Meanwhile, the Sooners (12-7, 3-3) finally won the game they hadn’t been able to win all season when they knocked off No. 20 Iowa State, emphatically even, 75-54, Tuesday night at Hilton Coliseum.

So, when the two teams tip off at 7 this evening, it might be worth remembering that everything OU believes it’s bringing into the contest, TCU might think it’s bringing, too.

About that …

“It was really nice to see the players after the game, to see them enjoy the fruits of their efforts, and they earned it,” OU coach Sherri Coale said of Tuesday night. “They played with great energy and they found out that that energy comes back to you, and maybe therein lies the lesson.”

Coale gave the team a day off Wednesday and Thursday, the first practice after the win, and said she could see a before-and-after difference with her team.

“Every pass didn’t seem so life or death,” she said. “Every shot didn’t feel so heavy.”

At Iowa State, OU shot 47.6 percent (30 of 63), held the Cyclones to 31.5 percent (17 of 54) from the field, got 50-percent shooting and 21 points from leading scorer, senior shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg, while senior point guard Morgan Hook, senior center Nicole Griffin and junior forward Sharane Campbell combined for 31 points.

“We came out and played with more passion, I think, than we’ve played with all year and that’s the kind of stuff that we have to do to win in the Big 12,” Hook said.

Also, the Sooners committed just 13 turnovers, while outrebounding the Cyclones 43-35. If that sounds like a complete effort, Coale concurs.

“Complete and total immersion,” she said. “Not holding anything back, not being afraid to go out on a limb and be uncomfortable, whether that’s going after a loose ball or going after a rebound or demanding the ball in the post or taking open 3s or simply communicating on defense.”

All OU has to do now is repeat the process.

“It’s just choosing. Everything is a choice,” Ellenberg said. “Passion, energy, everything is a choice.”

TCU is an example of just how deep the Big 12 is this season. Oklahoma State is ranked no. 8, Baylor is No. 12, West Virginia is No. 18, while Iowa State is trying to hold on in the polls. That quartet is followed by a bunch of teams that see themselves as top-25 teams, like OU, Texas and TCU.

Even Kansas, with a losing record, has turned very dangerous lately, stunning Baylor and playing OSU close in Stillwater.

Any team that can put a few wins together can dramatically change its regular-season fortune.

And when you’ve found a winning formula, the challenge becomes putting it back on the floor again and again.

“The season is so long, you have to prove a thing over and over and over again,” Coale said, “to really make it real.”

The Sooners believe they can do that. Probably, the Horned Frogs do, too.