March 18, 2000

By HANK LOWENKRON
AP Sports Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.-- Phylesha Whaley scored a season-high 33 points and became Oklahoma's career scoring leader as the 18th-ranked Sooners beat Brigham Young 86-81 Saturday in the first round of the NCAA East Regional.

Oklahoma (24-7) plays the winner of Saturday night's game between defending NCAA champion Purdue and Dartmouth.

Whaley, who has started a school-record 114 games in four seasons, came in with 2,119 points, 28 short of the record Molly McGuire set from 1980-83.

Whaley's final points came on a crucial layup in the final minute, after Brigham Young (22-9) had cut a 12-point deficit to one with an impressive effort from behind the 3-point line.

Whaley and LaNeishea Caufield, who had 22 of her 26 points in the second half, led a 16-3 run to start the second half, putting the Sooners ahead to stay.

Despite a five-minute stretch without a field goal, Brigham Young led 33-32 at halftime. Oklahoma took the lead for good by scoring the first nine points of the second half.

The Cougars regrouped by shooting 8-for-12 from behind the arc in the second half. For the game, Brigham Young were 13-for-35 on 2-pointer and 13-for-25 on 3-pointers.

Cady Williams scored 27 points for Brigham Young, and Jennifer Leitner and Erin Thorn had 17 apiece, with Thorn sinking five 3-pointers.

Whaley's jumper and two free throws gave the Sooners a 69-61 lead with 6:27 left. Three consecutive 3-pointers by Williams, who made six, left Brigham Young trailing 71-67 with 5:26 to play. She then missed two free throws with 4:56 remaining. Three seconds later, Lori Cuff missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity.

Two free throws by Thorn followed by her 3-pointer left Oklahoma holding a 79-78 lead with 54 seconds to go. Whaley's layup with 30 seconds remaining put Oklahoma up 81-78, and the Sooners held on as Caton Hill made four straight free throws in the final 19 seconds.