|Points||Napier - 14||Pierre-Louis - 18|
|Rebounds||Two Players - 7||Carter - 8|
|Assists||Two Players - 2||Penzo - 3|
|Steals||Five Players - 1||Three Players - 2|
|Blocks||Giebelhausen - 1||Mulkey - 3|
NORMAN – In its season opener, the No. 16 Oklahoma women's basketball team used lockdown defense to post an 80-48 victory over Southern Illinois on Sunday afternoon inside Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners (1-0) limited the Salukis (0-1) to 19-of-75 shooting (25 percent) and 5-of-30 (17 percent) from behind the 3-point line, while making 28 of their 64 shots (44 percent). Additionally, OU outrebounded SIU by a 49-46 clip, forced 18 turnovers and tallied nine blocks.
After entering the half with a 38-32 lead, the Sooners turned up the pressure in the third quarter, giving up just two points to the Salukis (0-of-10 shooting), the fewest points ever allowed by OU since the NCAA switched from two halves to four quarters of play last season.
“Communication, that is where it starts and stops," OU head coach Sherri Coale said. "We had to switch on all of those screens away from the ball. In order to do that you have to talk. They hit you so quick, you have to be on your toes and connected. We weren’t super connected in the first half but that comes with opening games and getting caught up in the emotion. I thought in the third quarter we were very present in the possession that we were in and the results speak for themselves.”
On the offensive end of the floor, OU showed a balanced attack, with 13 of 14 Sooners who saw playing time scoring and bench players combining for 32 points. The Sooners also outscored the Salukis, 54-26, in the paint.
Junior Vionise Pierre-Louis paced the home team with 18 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 17 minutes of action, while senior Gioya Carter contributed 16 points and a game-high eight boards. It marked the sixth time in her career that Carter has led the Sooners in rebounding.
Sophomore Ijeoma Odimgbe tallied a career-high six points, while freshman Nancy Mulkey recorded a team-best three blocks in her debut in the Crimson and Cream. Freshman Chelsea Dungee added six points, one steal and one rebound off the bench in her first appearance as a Sooner.
Coale said it was great to utilize the depth that the Sooners have on roster this season.
“It was great for Nancy [Mulkey] and Chelsea [Dungee] to play into their strengths as true freshman," Coale said. "I thought LaNesia [Williams] had a couple of really great attacks at the rim. Gielysa [Penzo] did a great job distributing the basketball and finding a way to get everyone else involved. Although we don’t have a great rhythm with five certain guys right now because it is so early, what we do have is a bunch of guys who are completely comfortable playing with one another. So when you are able to substitute and go in and out without having chemistry issues than that’s a huge bonus.”
The Sooners have won 18 of their last 19 home openers at the LNC dating back to the 1999-00 season. They sunk 23 free throws on Sunday, their most in a season opener since 2011-12 (20, Sacramento State).
OU returns to action on Wednesday as it hosts Little Rock at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center.