By CLAY HORNING
NORMAN — It’s a funny thing.
Every time somebody goes down for the Oklahoma women, somebody seems to step up. Even better, Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center, nobody had to be lost for the season for it to happen.
It took the Sooners almost five minutes to finally crack the scoreboard and, to borrow one of coach Sherri Coale’s favorite terms, there was some recess at the end.
In between, especially after Aaryn Ellenberg left with a sprained right ankle, OU was golden and it led to a 74-53 victory.
“They just turned up the intensity,” Coale said, saluting her players. “They paid attention to detail and had a tremendous run in the second half. I keep saying this, but these guys are fun to coach.”
Time stopped inside the arena with 17:17 remaining. Ellenberg, going for a rebound, was fouled by TCU’s Ashley Colbert and fell awkwardly backward, landing in a heap.
A couple minutes later, she walked gingerly off the court before removing her right shoe and being carried, both feet off the ground, to the locker room. She returned to the bench with her shoe back on but was done for the night.
“She’ll be fine,” Coale said.
Though Ellenberg departed, taking her 22.9-point conference scoring average with her, the Sooners took off.
A Sharane Campbell layup put OU on top 37-30 right before Ellenberg was hurt. Next, Campbell turned around and canned 3-pointers on OU’s next three possessions, spurring herself toward a game-high 23 points and spurring the Sooners along a 20-1 run, 17 coming after Ellenberg’s fall.
“I remember looking up at the clock and thinking, ‘Wow, we have 17 minutes left and Aaryn’s hurt.’ Then we just went off and we didn’t even notice that she wasn’t on the court,” junior forward Joanna McFarland said. “That makes a big statement about our team.”
Campbell didn’t draw a connection between her teammate’s fall and her own ascension.
“No, not really,” she said. “Just kept playing.”
But it follows a pattern. Both Ellenberg’s and McFarland’s production have risen considerably in the wake of season-ending injuries to Maddie Manning and Whitney Hand. This time it was Campbell’s turn.
“It’s necessity,” McFarland said. “We need everybody to be on their A-game every night for us to do what we want to do.”
Campbell wasn’t the only one to raise her play.
After OU (16-4, 6-1 Big 12) missed its first eight shots and trailed 11-0, Jasmine Hartman entered to begin a long night off the bench. She didn’t score but settled the team down and finished with a career-high nine assists against a single turnover. Also, freshman Nicole Kornet, who had scored three points total since conference play began, added nine, hitting three of five 3-point attempts.
OU led for the first time, 23-33, with 4:27 before the half. The Sooners took their first 20-point lead, 51-31, with 13:45 remaining and achieved their biggest edge, 23 points, the next trip down the floor on another 3-pointer from Campbell.
Zahna Medley led the Horned Frogs (7-12, 0-8) with 18 points. Veja Hamilton added 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Sooners got 11 points and seven rebounds from center Nicole Griffin. McFarland led everybody with 12 rebounds.
It didn’t start very well. Then it got scary. OU responded.
“No matter what happens,” Coale said, “they believe they can go win games. That proved to be true tonight.”