By DOUG FEINBERG
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Not even a long bus ride could stop Aaryn Ellenberg and Oklahoma.
Ellenberg scored 23 points and the No. 20 Sooners beat Fairfield 79-51 on Wednesday night.
The start of the game was delayed 45 minutes as Oklahoma was stuck in traffic coming up from New York City. It took the Sooners three hours to get to the game from their Times Square hotel 60 miles away.
"It probably didn't help not having a shootaround here and it was a lovely three hour bus ride," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "The people here were fantastic allowing us 45 minutes to get ready. We really appreciate that."
Oklahoma got off to a slow start and the game was tied at 15 before Ellenberg and Oklahoma heated up. The senior guard hit two 3-pointers during a 15-4 run that gave the Sooners a 30-19 lead with 3:25 left in the half. They led 35-25 at the break.
Fairfield was able to get within 37-30 early in the second half before Oklahoma (8-3) put the game away with an 11-2 run. Ellenberg started the spurt with lay-in off an inbounds pass and Nicole Griffin capped it with a layup.
"We tend to expect so much out of ourselves when we make a mistake we lamented," Coale said. "While you're lamenting the other team is making plays. We missed a lot of chippies — the posts missed a zillion of them. We kept pounding it and kept taking open 3's."
After starting the game missing their first six 3-point attempts, Oklahoma got hot from the field, making 10 of its final 16 attempts from behind the arc. The Sooners will finish off their two-game East Coast swing with a game at Marist on Saturday after spending a few days enjoying New York City.
"I learned early on the best way for our team to reach our potential is to play people who are really, really good," Coale said. "When I look for scheduling opportunities, I want to play teams that are well coached, play teams that play hard and understand how to play basketball."
The loss dropped Fairfield to 1-29 against ranked opponents with the lone win coming against Marist five seasons ago. Still Stags coach Joe Frager didn't hesitate to schedule the game when approached by Oklahoma for the game. The timing wasn't great for the Stags as they are in the middle of exams. But with a chance to play a Top 25 team, Frager got permission from the school for the game.
"We got more out of this game than a week of practice," Frager said. "It will help us get better."
He tried to get more students to come to the game partaking in the annual midnight breakfast during exams.
"Every time I was serving some eggs and bacon they were getting an Oklahoma ticket on top of it," Frager said.
While there weren't too many Fairfield students in the crowd, the game did attract UConn players Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Bria Hartley. The pair, fresh off Tuesday night's win at No. 2 Duke, played with Ellenberg on the World University Games team this past summer that won gold in Russia.
"They are just remarkable young women," Coale said of the two UConn players who she coached in Russia. "They were coachable and listened and did whatever I asked them to do. You couldn't ask for anymore from them."
Coale admitted she keeps on her computer the results from all the players on that World University Games team.
"I want to keep up with them," she said. "I'm attached to them. They are as good as it gets."
Alexys Vazquez led the Stags (5-4) with 17 points.