By CLAY HORNING
NORMAN — Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell kept calling timeouts. The Oklahoma women kept coming. By the time it was over, the Sooners had won so many different ways.
They beat their Bedlam rival 80-61, capturing in-state supremacy for the 27th time in 29 meetings with a Feb. 23 contest in Stillwater pending.
They maintained the second position in the conference standings behind No. 1 Baylor, a half-game in front of Iowa State and Texas Tech and a full game better than both in the loss column
For the longest time the Sooners (18-5 overall, 8-3 Big 12) even did it without much help from leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg, who was stuck on four points until the 11:36 mark of the second half.
That’s when point guard Morgan Hook lost the ball in the lane only to tap it out beyond the top of the key where Ellenberg grabbed it and let fly. The 3-pointer made it 54-41
It wasn’t over only because the Sooners weren’t finished, eventually pushing the edge to 22 points before settling on the final score.
OU’s victory was complete.
“This team is growing. They’re getting better,” OU coach Sherri Coale said, saluting her players. “Every day (we’re) getting better … Just growth across the board. Growth with our team.”
After losing badly at West Virginia and winning haphazardly over TCU, it was the game OU had been waiting to play.
The Sooners very nearly shot 50 percent from field, making 31 of 65 and were better than 40 percent from 3-point range, canning 7 of 17. At the same time, OU held OSU to 34.8-percent (23 of 66) shooting and 33.3 percent (3 of 9) from long distance. The Sooners even outrebounded the Cowgirls 45 -38.
OSU (16-6, 5-6) took an early 8-3 lead, but the Sooners were golden the rest of the way, taking the lead for good on two free throws from Joanna McFarland 3:03 before the half.
“We didn’t let our missed shots at the beginning affect us like we have previously,” said Sooner point guard Morgan Hook, who finished with eight points and 10 assists in more than 39 minutes on the court. “In our tight huddles, we just said, ‘The ball is going to go in the this next time.’ We just started moving the ball and feeding the post and moving in and out. We had more rhythm.”
They really fed the post.
Simply forcing OSU center Toni Young into foul trouble would have made for a fine game from OU center Nicole Griffin. She did that, as Young, the Cowgirls’ leading scorer (16.9 ppg) and rebounder (9.9 rpg), played only 3 first-half minutes. Then she did more, taking advantage to score a career-high 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
“We allowed her to catch the ball too deep in the paint and she is a handful there,” Littell said.
The Sooners also got 15 points and 12 rebounds from Sharane Campbell, and 10 points and 15 rebounds from McFarland.
Even Ellenberg, who did so little for two-thirds of the game — and committed five of OU’s 14 turnovers — came through with 17 points, 13 beginning with that tap-out assist from Hook.
A crowd of 10,567 enjoyed the performance.
“It was pretty great having the gym full and seeing everyone’s support,” Campbell said. “Because we feel the love. It gives you an extra oomph.”
Littell thought the Cowgirls were fine until a spate of missed layups allowed OU to lead at the half.
“We were right in the game,” he said.
Until they weren’t.
Kendra Suttles led OSU with 15 points. Liz Donohoe added 13, Brittney Martin finished with 12 and Young, in 20 minutes, settled for 10.
It was OU’s day.
“Our team is still evolving,” Coale said.
In the right direction, apparently.