NORMAN, Okla. -- In a thriller at the Lloyd Noble Center Thursday night, No. 11 Oklahoma defeated No. 25 Gonzaga 82-78 in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT.
Oklahoma will host No. 5 Louisville in the tournament's championship game Sunday at 3 p.m. CT at the Lloyd Noble Center. The Cardinals defeated LSU 88-67 Thursday.
“I’m really proud of our team," OU head coach Sherri Coale said. "I think we displayed a great deal of toughness, especially down the stretch after Morgan (Hook) went out.
"We got great minutes from T.T. [T’ona Edwards] and Gioya [Carter], great toughness from our bigs and our All-American (Aaryn Ellenberg) makes baskets at the end of the game."
There were 21 lead changes and 14 ties in the game, but the Sooners never trailed by more than five points.
Ellenberg was the leading scorer with 21 points, followed by Kaylon Williams with 14. The Sooners shot 42 percent for the game.
Ellenberg hit the Sooners' go-ahead basket with 1:56 remaining and iced the game with a free throw with 21 seconds to play.
“I kept thinking to myself that we’ve got to get over this hump," Ellenberg said. "It seemed like constantly we would score and then we’d be down by one again. We just had to get over that hump and when we did that was where a lot of our energy came from.”
At halftime, Gonzaga was up 40-38.
“At one point in the second half they had 10 offensive rebounds and we had zero offensive rebounds. That was the difference in the game," Coale said. "That’s how they got the lead."
But the Sooners, led by near-double-doubles from Williams and Nicole Griffin, evened the rebound total in the second half.
"I just thought you’ve got to play for something bigger than yourself," Williams said. "That’s where great stories are made. I played for our seniors and this team. I’m going to go get rebounds. In the tightest part of the game that was the only thing on my mind at the time.”
The Sooners struggled from the free throw line, shooting 69 percent, but made them when it mattered most. When OU's defense clamped down on the Bulldogs -- Gonzaga was scoreless from the field the final 3 1/2 minutes -- the Sooners hit 4-of-6 at the line compared to Gonzaga's 0-for-4 mark.
Oklahoma went to the line 49 times, two shy of a team record, and made 34, one shy of their program's most in a single game.
Gioya Carter fouled out with 5:36 left in the second half. She had 10 points. Campbell played for most of the second half with four fouls.