By CLAY HORNING
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” used to have a lot of fun with the space/time continuum; mainly, that breaches within it could lead to parallel universes and great television.
It’s nice to think about, perhaps, in terms of Oklahoma women’s basketball. Because the Sooners (11-7, 2-3 Big 12) are at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum tonight to face the 20th-ranked Cyclones (14-3, 3-3), and in an alternate universe, if OU could have made one particular play the day Iowa State visited Lloyd Noble Center, the season might look very different right now.
“We just have to finish plays. That will allow us to finish games,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “That’s sort of been our whole Achilles’ heel: you do the right thing, you get the stop, but you don’t get the rebound; you do the right thing, you get the ball in the right place, but you don’t make the shot. We’ve just got to finish plays.”
Consider the alternative future if OU could have made one of two plays against the Cyclones back on Jan. 5, when both teams opened Big 12 Conference play.
After Sharane Campbell had put OU up with two free throws with 21 seconds remaining, Iowa State’s Hallie Christofferson missed trying to tie it. But the Sooners let the rebound get away, knocking it out of bounds. The Cyclones then inbounded the ball from under the basket and the game was soon tied.
Trying to beat the buzzer at the other end, OU point guard Morgan Hook rimmed out a decent look from about 10 feet on the left baseline.
If the Sooners get the rebound or make the shot, they win the game. They didn’t and lost in overtime instead. And from that point forward, additional bad things have happened.
The next time out, OU gave up a 12-point halftime lead at Texas before losing that game in overtime, too.
In their most recent contest, the Sooners mounted a furious rally at West Virginia, tying the game after trailing by double digits, only to fade down the stretch and lose 77-63.
“It’s easy to step away from it and say, had we grabbed that rebound against Iowa State, how differently would we feel about ourselves or how differently would we have executed when Texas came charging back?” Coale said. “And none of that happened, so here we are, like we’ve been hit with a stun gun, and we have to re-center ourselves and get back to the core of the matter, which is exaction.
Coale added that it seems like her team is one play away at the right time from creating an entirely new season for itself. Of course, the thing about that, she understands, is you have to make every play, because every play could be the one that turns the tide.
“You look at it, and it’s the difference between night and day,” she said. “It’s such a small difference and yet it’s night and day in its effect.”
First things first, the Sooners have to take the floor at Iowa State and, at least off the bat, not allow transition buckets or a barrage of 3-pointers.”
“That’s how the top comes off the building,” Coale said.
OU can’t have that.
“We need something good to happen,” Coale said. “There’s no doubt about that.”