Sooners Power Past Lamar, 79-44

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 30, 2006

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) -- Only five games into the season, the Oklahoma Sooners have developed a habit Coach Sherri Coale wants to eliminate.

Courtney Paris scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, her 33rd consecutive double-double, as third-ranked Oklahoma routed Lamar 79-44 on Wednesday night.

The Sooners (5-0) were in control most of the way, but played sluggishly through much of the first half. They led by 15 at the break, despite shooting 32 percent from the field (13 of 41) and 33 percent from the free-throw line (5 of 15).

This wasn't the first time Coale has noticed her team playing less than its best for long stretches.

``For whatever reason, we seem like we're waiting for a reason to play,'' Coale said. ``And the reason to play is because there's a game. And that should be reason enough for any competitor.''

The Sooners opened the second half with a 14-4 burst, looking smoother on offense and smothering the Cardinals on defense.

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Lamar (2-4) turned the ball over on its first five second-half possessions and Paris scored twice inside, then converted a three-point play to push the Sooners' lead to 22.

``In the first half, we forgot to just go out and play,'' Paris said. ``We thought about way too much, instead of just going out and playing basketball.''

Quiana N'Joku scored in the lane with 12:22 left, Lamar's first field goal in the second half. The Cardinals trailed 49-26 at that point, the result of nine turnovers in the first 7 1/2 minutes after the break.

The Sooners led 77-42 when Coale finally pulled her starters.

Oklahoma 0utrebounded Lamar 51-29 and held the Cardinals to 32 percent shooting (13 of 41). The Sooners have held all five opponents below 40 percent.

Alexis Timpone and LaToya Carson scored 11 points apiece for the Cardinals. Carson became the ninth player in Lamar history to pass 1,000 points.

Oklahoma will be favored in its next four games before a Dec. 20 showdown with No. 6 Ohio State in Norman. By then, Coale said her team should have figured out how to sustain a high level of intensity for a full game.

``It's real easy to fix,'' said Coale. ``It's not like there's something we have to invent, or suddenly create. It's just everybody using their gifts and doing what they can do.''

Nyeshia Stevenson scored 13 and Leah Rush added 11 for the Sooners, who've won 19 consecutive regular-season games and 11 straight on the road.

The 6-foot-4 Paris overpowered the smaller Cardinals all night, getting many of her baskets after rebounding her own misses. Paris pulled down nine offensive rebounds, two more than Lamar had as a team.

Paris is only a sophomore, and Lamar coach Leonard Drake said she has the potential to become an all-time great.

``I like to think I've watched a lot of women's basketball,'' said Drake. ``She has an opportunity to be the greatest center in the history of the women's game.''

The Sooners missed 12 of their first 17 shots, most of them from short range, and Timpone hit two 3-pointers from the wing to keep Lamar close.

But Stevenson's 3-pointer from the top of the key started an 11-0 Oklahoma spurt and the Sooners were never threatened again. The Cardinals missed seven consecutive shots during the run and Stevenson's steal and breakaway layup gave the Sooners a 27-13 lead with 7:19 left in the half.

Carson's jumper ended a six-minute scoring drought for Lamar, but Chelsi Welch answered with a 3-pointer at the other end to put Oklahoma up 30-16. The Sooners have hit a 3-pointer in 100 consecutive games.

The Sooners kept missing open shots, but controlled the rest of the half with swarming defense and dominance on the boards. They led 35-20 at the break after holding Lamar to 26 percent shooting (7 of 27) and outrebounding the Cardinals 35-18.

``We did everything but play hard,'' Paris said of the Sooners' first half.

Oklahoma shot only 32 percent (13 of 41) from the field in the first half. Coale's halftime message was short on adjustments and heavy on motivating her team.

``We all just knew we had to play harder,'' Paris said. ``Coach came in and said the same thing. It was simple. It wasn't anything we needed to write up.''



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