By CLAY HORNING
NORMAN — On the last day of the regular season, needing a win in the worst possible way, the Oklahoma women played their best game of the season, routing hapless Texas Tech 87-32.
On that note, the Sooners will enter the Big 12 tournament 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City against Texas.
Whether or not OU must top its Red River rival to reach a 15th straight NCAA tournament remains unknown, though Sooner coach Sherri Coale believes her squad’s 18-13 overall record and 9-9 conference mark is already enough to earn a bid.
“If you do what (we did) in this league, I think it gets you in for sure,” she said. “I think what we did in Oklahoma City this weekend will go a long way toward where we are (sent).”
What’s very clear is OU had to finish strong over the conference doormat, and though the first 71⁄2 minutes yielded only an 8-6 lead, most of the rest of the game felt like an explosion.
“We haven’t seen us play like that in a long time, where everybody’s making shots and we’re playing together and not turning it over,” senior point guard Morgan Hook said. “It’s nice to see we’re still capable of doing that.”
The Sooners made 48.4 percent (31 of 64) of their shots despite slow starts to both halves. They made 15 3-pointers in 29 attempts, more than they’d canned all season. They committed a season-low eight turnovers and they held the Lady Raiders to 20.7 percent (12 of 58) shooting.
The 55-point margin OU’s performance delivered is the biggest victory in program history over a conference opponent.
“Just for everybody to get together and want to play the last game the right way … I think that was really healthy,” senior shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg said.
The contributions came from everywhere.
Ellenberg led with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Nicole Kornet netted 15, making five straight 3-pointers after drawing nothing but air on her first attempt. Sharane Campbell added 11 after the half to also finish with 15. Hook finished with 12 and four assists against a single turnover.
Kaylon Williams finished with seven rebounds, four points, two assists and two steals. Porita Durrett, Kornet and the smallest Sooner, T’Ona Edwards, all pulled down six rebounds.
“I thought we played hard and I thought we helped each other,” Coale said.
After scoring just eight points over almost the first 8 minutes, OU came back with 28 over the next 12.
After needing 1:58 to knocked down its first field goal of the second half, OU went on to score another 49 more points the rest of the way, even as Coale substituted liberally with a huge lead.
During one five-possession, second-half stretch, Campbell knocked down a trio of 3-pointers and two free throws, while Gioya Carter also hit two free throws. Later, during a six-possession stretch, Kornett hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by a Griffin layup, a jumper from Durrett and a 3-pointer from Ellenberg.
In those 11 possessions, the Sooners scored 29 points.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the court, OU held Tech scoreless from the 12:14 mark of the second half until just 2:20 remained.
It was OU’s best game against the conference’s worst team. The idea is to keep it going.
“We did a lot of things well,” Coale said.
OU basketball notebook
For the record: The Oklahoma women completed their 2013-14 regular season with an 87-32 victory over Texas Tech inside Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners improved to 18-13 and 9-9 against Big 12 Conference competition. Tech fell to 6-23 and 0-18
Senior Night: Folloiwing the game, Sooner seniors Morgan Hook, Aaryn Ellenberg, Nicole Griffin and Portia Durrett were all honored during a post game ceremony. A few highlights:
• OU coach Sherri Coale explaining that she keeps a folder for every player who collects academic transgressions big and small, from being a few minutes late for class, to missing a class, to struggling with a grade in a class, to not returning class materials, etc. Coale said her folder on Griffin, four years old, still has nothing in it.
• Hook beginning her remarks to her team, family, coach and crowd by saying she didn’t think she would cry the way Durrett had, yet slowly choking up as she began to talk about her family and Coale. “My dad’s crying, so that’s not helping,” she said.
• Ellenberg, speaking last, being the coolest of all four, hardly even breaking stride in her words and then, before she could get a sentence out about her mother, who was standing about 10 feet away, having to take two long pauses, bending over to hide her face each time. When it happened, her teammates giggled and almost danced, like maybe Ellenberg had told them there was no way she’d show such emotion.
• Coale telling the crowd, despite such a choppy season, “In the grand scheme of things I could not have asked for four better players to coach and to be ambassadors for the program than these four seniors,” before telling the crowd, based upon the way her team had just played, that there’s still a lot of season left to play.
Durrett coming on: Durrett may not have started only because it was senior night. She actually started Saturday against TCU as well. She played like she earned the honor against the Lady Raiders, using 20 minutes of court time to make 3 of 4 shots and finish with six points, grab six rebounds, block three shots and nab one steal.
Tip-ins: OU’s 15 3-pointers is a program high going back to the 17 it hit against Oregon on Nov. 12, 2012 … Ellenberg, is averaging 24.3 points over her last three games … OU has beaten Tech 18 of the program’s last 19 meetings … The 55-point margin is the biggest in program history against a conference opponent. The Sooners beat Oklahoma State by 50 on 2004 … Ellenberg is 27 made 3-pointers away from the all-time NCAA record of 392.
Next: The Sooners, who may or may not need a victory at the Big 12 tournament to receive a Big Dance bid for a 15th straight season, enter conference tourney play at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Oklahoma City as the No. 6 seed against No. 3-seed Oklahoma State (22-6, 12-6)/Texas (20-10, 11-7). The Sooners split regular season games against the Cowgirls/Longhorns, with both teams winning on their home court.
Oklahoma 87, Texas Tech 32
Texas Tech (32): Nobles 1-6 1-4 5, H. Schneider 0-6 0-0 0, Lizarazu 0-1 4-5 4, Spears 0-7 0-0 0, Battle 2-17 0-0 4, CookTaylor 5-14 2-2 12, Lockhart 1-3 0-0 3, K. Schneider 0-0 0-0 0, Caston 2-3 0-0 4, Harrison 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 12-58 7-11 32.
OU (87): Durrett 3-4 0-0 7, Griffin 1-3 0-0 2, Kornet 5-8 0-0 15, Ellenberg 7-16 0-0 18, Hook 3-6 4-4 12, Edwards 2-6 0-0 4, Wyatt 0-4 0-0 0, Kellogg, 0-0 0-0 0, Sharane Campbell 4-6 4-4 15, Carter 3-6 2-4 8. Totals: 31-64 10-12 87.
Halftime: OU 36, Texas Tech 17. 3-point goals — Tech 1-15 (Lockhart 1-2, Spears 0-5, Battle 0-3, CookTaylor 0-3, Lizarazu 0-1, Caston 0-1). OU 15-29 (Kornet 5-6, Ellenberg 4-11, Campbell 3-3, Hook 2-5, Durrett 1-1, Edwards 0-2, Wyatt 0-1). Rebounds — Tech 35 (CookTaylor 7). OU 47 (Williams 7). Steals — Tech 6 (CookTaylor 2). OU 8 (Kornet 2, Ellenberg 2). Assists — Tech 4 (Nobles, Lizarazu, Spears, Harrison). OU 17 (Hook 4, Edwards 4). Turnovers — Tech 12 (CookTaylor 4); OU 8 (Griffin 3). Steals — Tech 6 (Schneider 2, Battle 2). OU 8 (Kornet 2, Ellenberg 2). Blocks — Tech 2 (Battle, Schneider). OU 8 (Durrett 3). Total fouls — Tech 13, OU 15. Fouled out — OU, Griffin. A — 3,000.