March 8, 2002

By ANTHONY GIORNALISTA
AP MegaSports Writer

They're both in the Top 10 and are the top two teams in the Big 12 Conference.

So a competitive conference tournament title game would be expected as fourth-ranked Oklahoma (24-3) takes on seventh-ranked Baylor (24-4) at Municipal Auditorium on Saturday.

However, a closer look shows one squad may have a distinct advantage.

The Sooners and Lady Bears have distinguished themselves as two of the top teams in the nation. Oklahoma, though, may carry a notable mental edge.

The Sooners won both meetings between the teams this season, with both contests being decided by nine points. Oklahoma has also won eight straight against the Lady Bears, with Baylor's last win in the series coming on Feb. 1, 1998, a 97-67 decision.

Oklahoma also has the advantage of fielding a team that went to the title game last season, before losing to Iowa State. The Lady Bears, meanwhile, are making their first appearance.

Stacey Dales had 19 points to lead top-seeded Oklahoma to a 69-49 victory over Kansas State on Thursday.

Dales leads an experienced squad, which has four starters who have played in four conference tournaments. She averages 17.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

"We take such spirit and enthusiasm from Stacey Dales," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "When she's making shots from the perimeter, making things happen and moving the ball around, we're really good."

Rosalind Ross, Caton Hill and LaNeishea Caufield added 13 points apiece for the Sooners, who won their fourth straight game.

Baylor, the tournament's second-seeded team, defeated No. 11 Iowa State 91-83 Thursday.

Sheila Lambert, who had 30 points in a 75-60 win over Texas Tech on Wednesday, had 20 points and 11 assists to lead five players in double-figures against the Cyclones.

"This was a big win for us and another first for our program," Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey-Robinson said. "I think it's only fitting that the two teams that finished first and second in the league get to fight it out for the championship."

Oklahoma leads the all-time series 12-4.