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Sooners Win Big in Season Opener
November 12, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Courtney Paris started her sophomore season in the same record-breaking way she finished her freshman campaign.

Paris had 23 points and 11 rebounds for her school-record 34th double-double and Chelsi Welch matched her career-high with 23 points to lead No. 3 Oklahoma past No. 20 DePaul 105-71 Sunday.

It was Oklahoma's most lopsided win against a ranked opponent in Sherri Coale's 11 seasons as coach.

"I think what a win like this does is, it doesn't have anything to do with the number of points that we scored or the margin of victory even," Coale said. "It's that we understand we can beat the No. (20) team in the country and still have all these things that we need to improve upon."

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Coale said the Sooners (1-0) struggled to box out on rebounds, but they corrected that to beat the Blue Demons (0-1) on the boards 34-13 in the second half. Oklahoma surpassed 100 points for the third time in a season opener.

"I think this win was huge for us. You talk about statements and things like that, but just for us to score that many points and know how much improvement we have to make is really encouraging," Welch said.

DePaul lost starters Erin Carney and Caprice Smith to foul trouble during a 9-0 Oklahoma run early in the second half. Ashley Paris capped the initial run with a layup to make it 57-40, and the Sooners started a 10-1 spurt soon after.

Leah Rush's jumper from the left corner stretched the lead to 69-43, and the Blue Demons never got closer than 19 as the Sooners closed the game on a 12-2 run.

The double-double was the 29th in a row for Paris, a preseason All-American. Ashley Paris, Courtney's twin, added 16 points and Rush scored 11 for Oklahoma, which won its ninth straight home opener.

"We couldn't have beaten the Sooner Stilettos the way we competed," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said, referring to Oklahoma's club for female community and business leaders.

Jenna Rubino had 18 points and Smith scored 14 for DePaul, which was coming off its first appearance in the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. Carney grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds, 15 in the first half.

Oklahoma held DePaul to 29 percent shooting in the first half to open a 45-33 lead. The Sooners never trailed.

"We've got a long way to go. We've been through this type of a game before, I'm not lying, and have made corrections, resurrected ourselves and made it to the NCAA tournament," Bruno said.

"It doesn't seem like that's possible when you walk off the floor after a spanking like we had in the second half, but I still have belief and faith in these young women."

DePaul wore a patch honoring former Blue Demons men's coach Ray Meyer and former assistant women's coach Maggie Dixon, who each passed away in the past year.

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