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|Follow the Sooners from the 2010 NCAA Final Four direct from San Antonio. View notes, headlines and features throughout the tournament and live updates during the game.
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|| Sunday, April 4
8:59 p.m. -- An incredible season for Oklahoma comes to an end. Abi Olajuwon, Nyeshia Stevenson and Amanda Thompson leave a legacy of being the first Sooner senior class to lead its team to back-to-back Final Fours and, beyond that, leave the program better than they found it.
The Sooners begin a new season tomorrow and look forward to introducing five incoming freshmen into the family.
Recap | Stats | Quotes | Notes | Photo Gallery
8:09 p.m. -- Ogwumike sneaks behind the entire Sooner defense and gets the inbounds wide open near the Stanford basket.
That will end OU's incredible run this season.
Stanford 73, Oklahoma 66 -- Final.
8:07 p.m. -- The clock didn't start on cue as Stanford shifted the inbounds.
Thompson's 2 drives the crowd insanse.
Olajuwon gets tagged with foul No. 4 and Ogwumike's free throws make it a 5-point game with 21.7 to play.
Robinson drives for 2 and Coale calls time.
69-66 Stanford, with 16.0 to play. Hartman checks in.
7:59 p.m. -- Sooners can taste Cardinal blood. Thompson's rebound and 3 makes it a four-point game with 1:20 left.
Apparently, now the Sooners' shot clock malfunctioning.
7:58 p.m. -- Sooners conserving clock on the inbounds.
Thompson guarding Ogwumike, forces a bad pass that Stevenson intercepts and takes for 2.
Stanford with fouls to give as Robinson penetrates the lane.
Robinson's 3-point play take the game within 8. Olajuwon fouled and goes to the line to make it seven as the ball bounces high of the rim and favorably back through the net.
Stanford timeout with a free throw to shoot.
Stanford 66, Oklahoma 59 - 1:36.
7:50 p.m. -- The seniors and Robinson make it a 10-point game again. Robinson gets her bell rung on an inbounds screen set by Ogwumike. Fortunately, the 5-9 guard has more padding than Kenyon Martin's SUV on April Fool's Day.
At the final media timeout, Stanford leads 62-52 with 3:36 remaining.
7:48 p.m. -- The cords connecting all the camera and equipment to the goal looks like Christmas with the Griswolds. Finally, the Alamodome staff finds the correct plug and turns the lights back on. There's fire hoses on the upper deck just in case sparks start flying.
7:45 p.m. -- For the second time, the shot clock on Stanford's side blanks.
7:43 p.m. -- The shot clock on Stanford's goal powered out during that last timeout, adding a slight to delay to return to action.
Oklahoma starting to flip the deficit in points and the paint and second-chance points. Stanford still leads both categories, but the margin is growing smaller.
Oguwmike's free throw makes the lead 16 points and Appel subs for her.
Robinson getting plenty of looks, with 19 field goal attempts, just not hitting many of them tonight as balls rattle iron and jump out.
Stevenson slides by Pohlen for a layup and 12th point of the night. OU's trap on defense gets the ball loose, but VanDerveer calls a timeout as a Cardinal grasps it before it can be tied up.
Stanford leads 62-47 with 5:44 to play.
7:36 p.m. -- Oklahoma turns more aggresive in the paint, fouling Stanford when they arrive with an advantage. Still, the Sooners have no answer for the rebounding prowess of Ogwumike, and aren't getting any second-chance opportunities on offense.
Ogwumike just dominating, now with 28 points and 16 rebounds. Ogwumike flips over McFarland's back on a layup attempt and hits her head on the floor hard, needing some time to get up.
Stanford leads 58-43 with 7:48 to play. OU's seen adversity all year and I'm sure they all still believe they are in this game.
7:27 p.m. -- Thompson picks up her fourth foul, defending an Ogwumike jump shot. Olajuwon, who subbed out of the game walking gingerly, checks back in with no apparent limp.
7:24 p.m. -- Stanford has opened the half with six offensive rebounds and leads second-chance points 10 to 1 for the game.
OU fights off four second-chance opportunities for Stanford and Robinson's layup gets the Sooners under 10 -- a 10-2 run for the Sooners.
Stanford answers as Ogwumike is just a mismatch in the paint for every defender OU can put on her.
Coaches screaming for OU to drive to the basket, but the Sooners can't hear as UConn and Baylor enter the arena and take seats behind each goal; forcing Coale to call a timeout.
Stanford leads 48-36 with 11:56 to play.
7:16 p.m. -- The Sooners running more comfortably on offense, but the stingy defense they adopted in the first half has cooled.
OU giving Olajuwon the chance to take it to Appel, and gets fouled. Sooners going to the rim with much more abandon than in the first half, and those chances are paying off.
OU cuts into the lead slightly.
Stanford 42, Oklahoma 28 with 15:29 to play.
7:03 p.m. -- Though Oklahoma and Stanford are close on rebounds and equal on offensive boards, here's a telling figure of how tonight's game is going -- points in the paint is 20-10 in favor of the Cardinal.
Perhaps a switch of goals will help the shots fall in the second half.
6:55 p.m. -- Halftime stats:
FG: Stanford - 14-34 (.412); OU - 8-32 (.250)
3FG: Stanford - 1-6 (.167); OU - 0-5 (.000)
FT: Stanford - 5-8 (.625); OU - 5-7 (.714)
REB: Stanford - 26, OU - 23
AST: Stanford - 6, OU - 1
TO: Stanford - 2, OU - 6
Points: Robinson - 8
Rebounds: Olajuwon - 7
Assists: Robinson - 1
Points: Ogwumike - 14
Rebounds: Ogwumike - 9
Assists: Pedersen, Pohlen - 2
6:52 p.m. -- Both OU's and Stanford's last-second attempts fail and the teams head to the locker room with the 34-21 score.
6:50 p.m. -- Stanford's height advantage turning into a rebounding advantage as its three bigs crash to the paint with every shot.
Robinson drives to the hoop for 2. Roethlisberger gets in position to take the charge on Ogwumike and the momentum swings a little back to OU's side as VanDerveer calls time with 30.3 seconds left in the half.
Stanford 34, Oklahoma 21.
6:47 p.m. -- Stevenson with the lean-in for 2. Fifteen points isn't a lead OU can't rally from, but with Ogwumike finding space under the rim, it will be much more difficult than its comeback against Kentucky in the regional final.
Media timeout hits at 2:00.
6:42 p.m. -- Field-goal percentages still low for both teams, but the Cardinal have the upper hand, 38 percent to 22.
The cushion keeps getting bigger for OU as Stanford stand backs. Except for Hones, who fouls Stevenson on a 3 attempt. Stevenson makes the trio.
Olajuwon with her second block of the game. Just an inspiring defensive effort by Abi, who has seven boards to go with it.
Stanford doubles up OU, 30-15, as Ogwumike finds Appel as the Sooners double Nneka. Coale calls for time with 2:59 left in the half.
6:35 p.m. -- Roles start reversing as the hole gets deeper for OU. It's Stanford beating the Sooners down the court a couple times for easy baskets.
Thompson not letting the game get away, dropping a 14-footer and scooping a defenseive rebound on ends of the court. Robinson's jumper hits -- the first two consecutive makes for OU.
Stanford leads 23-14 with 6:14 left in the first half.
OU coaches telling the players during the timeout to stop taking quick shots, let the game come to them.
6:29 p.m. -- Oklahoma still hesitant in the paint, taking some lower percentage shots instead of taking it to the rim. Stanford is simply allowing OU to take jumpers and they are not falling for the Sooners.
Coale calls a timeout to speak with her team as Pedersen gets inside for 2 to put Stanford up 17-8.
6:21 p.m. -- The two teams shot a combined 4-for-19 in the opening four minutes, but 4-for-9 that last interval.
Oklahoma still trapping the backcourt and trying to keep the ball away from Stanford's posts.
Olajuwon with six rebounds in the first seven minutes, hustling more than she has at any point in her career. As she makes her shot fall of a reverse post move, the crowd cheers, including her father Hakeem, the NBA legend, who is in attendance tonight.
McFarland gives Olajuwon a rest just before the clock enters media timeout range.
Stanford leads 13-7 with 11:20 on the clock, but this game has the feel as if the Sooners can start making shots fall, they will be in control.
6:15 p.m. -- Olajuwon and Pedersen get tied up with the ball on the tip and Abi almost calls a timeout. Possession awared to Stanford as officials mericfully call a jumpball.
Great initial defense by OU, really pressuring the Stanford defense. The paint is well defended, OU holds Stanfords scoreless on four straight possesions, but OU jumpy as well and misses its first six field goals. The excitement showing on OU's offense as its shots are pushed a little too far.
Oguwmike gets past Olajuwon on a fast break and is fouled by Thompson on the next series to score the first four points.
Finally, a shot drops for Thompson. And Robinson takes advantage of her athleticism against Pohlen in a one-on-one at the rim. Tie ball game.
Ogwumike has all of Stanford's six points as the Cardinal exploiting the few passing lanes to the rim OU has allowed. The Sooners are certainly holding their own on defense, but just forcing attempts on offense.
Stanford leads 6-4 at the first media timeout, 14:53.
6:05 p.m. -- It's game time. Starting lineups have concluded and the ball is seconds from being thrown in the air. The atmosphere is electric.
5:56 p.m. -- The National Anthem has been played by the Sooner Showmen and the NCAA played a crowd pumper featuring senior Amanda Thompson that has this place jumping.
Tip-off is just 10 minutes away.
Starting for Oklahoma are Danielle Robinson, Jasmine Hartman, Abi Olajuwon, Nyeshia Stevenson and Amanda Thompson.
For Stanford: Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Jeanette Pohlen, Jayne Appel, Kayla Pedersen and Nneka Ogwumike.
Officials are Lisa Mattingly, Michael Price and Laura Morris with Marianne Karp on standby.
5:47 p.m. -- The Alamodome is filling up with fans and both teams are on the court warming up. The OU and Stanford bands are trading songs across the court. San Antonio has done a great job of supporting the 2010 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. We're just minutes away from tip now...
5:24 p.m. -- The seats at the Alamodome are split into four quadrants for the four participating schools. Oklahoma fans will be located opposite the OU bench (in the lower left of your TV screen). Baylor fans in green and gold are next to OU, UConn fans in blue and white are behind the OU bench and Stanford fans are behind the Cardinal bench. Plenty of Sooner fans in attendance -- you might not be able to see them on the screen but you'll undoubtedly hear them. Good sight for the OU team looking across the court.
5:08 p.m. -- The players are on the court here in the Alamodome and stretching. Oklahoma will be the visiting team tonight, wearing crimson and occupying the bench on the left side of your TV screen. The OU band just started playing for the fans already in their seats.
4:56 p.m. -- Great send-off for the Sooners at the team hotel. Band, spirit and frenzied fans scared all the other guests in the lobby and lining the street. The players and coaches obviously enjoyed the show of support. Great job Sooner fans!
12:22 p.m. -- Less than six hours to tipoff for the Sooners. OU returns to the hotel after their final practice before the game and has an Easter celebration before getting back to business.
Join us for a Sooner Sendoff at the lobby of the Westin Hotel on Market Street in downtown San Antonio at 4:15 p.m.
Any recording of the team's morning shootaround was restricted, but we did sneak out of the Alamodome with the Sooners' pre-practice dance routine. Shhh...don't let the NCAA know.
Sooners' Warmup Dance
Stevenson Takes a Tour
12:08 p.m. -- The matchup with Stanford will be live on ESPN at 6 p.m. Central. If you can't get the TV broadcast, here are more options for following the action live:
9:36 a.m. -- The Sooners headed for the Alamodome and their final practice before the National Semifinal tonight at 6 p.m. against Stanford. View Sunday's headlines on the Sooners:
Lynn Jacobson of the Tulsa World: "Oklahoma and Stanford are as different as night and day. The third-seeded Sooners (27-10) run an up-tempo, fast-paced offense and like to get out and run behind Danielle Robinson and Nyeshia Stevenson. The No. 1-seeded Cardinal (35-1) runs more of a half-court, methodical offense..."
OU's Pace Must Counter Stanford Size - Tulsa World
Graham Hays of ESPN: "They've got great charisma," Griffin said Saturday of the Sooners after she was honored as a State Farm All-American. "Their team energy, the way they feed of one another, they've got great chemistry about them. When you can have that along with talent, your team is going to go far. And so I think..."
Marist Win Pivotal in Oklahoma's Run - ESPN
OU Women's Basketball Headlines
Sherrimania in Oklahoma, Outside State - The Oklahoman
Oklahoma Tempered by Schedule - San Antonio Express
Tourney History as OU Meets Stanford - Norman Transcript
OU's Cloman Ready to Lend Hand - San Antonio Express
Robinson Wanted No Part of Stanford - The Oklahoman
Stanford, OU Get Lost in the Hype - San Antonio Express
Stanford on Guard - Norman Transcript
OU-Stanford Feud No Longer Bitter - The Oklahoman
Oklahoma vs. Stanford Preview - Associated Press
Stanford Aims for Title - San Jose Mercury-News
Notebook: Appel, Robinson, Size vs. Speed - The Oklahoman
Stanford's Power of Three- ESPN
Height's an Advantage for Olajuwon - The Oklahoman
Before UConn, Stanford Must Escape OU - Tulsa World
Former Sooner Rogers Proud of Team - The Oklahoman
|| Saturday, April 3
4:28 p.m. -- We returned to the team hotel this afternoon and finally had time to process today's video. First, watch the team practicing at the Alamodome and holding an autograph session with fans:
Sooners Practice at Alamodome
Sooner Band, Spirit in San Antonio to Support OU
Coach Coale, Players Practice in Front of Fans
Sooners Sign Autographs for Fans | Autographs 2
Next, view video interviews of the Sooners as they meet with the media in their locker room at the Alamodome. The Sooners will play Stanford at 6 p.m. Sunday with the game televised by ESPN.
Abi Olajuwon Discusses Young Fans at Autograph Session
Amanda Thompson on the Oklahoma-Stanford Matchup
Danielle Robinson Discusses Familiarity With Stanford
Joanna McFarland on Sisters Impacting Her Basketball Skills
Lyndsey Cloman on Being in Hometown for Final Four
Finally, Ohio State's All-American, Jantel Lavender, breaks down the OU-Stanford matchup and Danielle Robinson talks with Virginia's Monica Wright at the All-America awards presentation:
Ohio State's Lavender Breaks Down OU vs. Stanford
Danielle Robinson Talks With Virginia's Monica Wright
3:09 p.m. -- View quotes from Coach Coale, Danielle Robinson and Amanda Thompson from the official Final Four press conference in addition to quotes from the locker room from more players:
OU Final Four Press Conference Quotes
2:42 p.m. -- OU completed its open practice at the Alamodome and returned to its team hotel Saturday afternoon. We're working on posting photos and video here:
Sooners Hold Autograph Session for Fans
12:29 p.m. -- The Sooners held an autograph session in front of the Alamodome and then inspected their locker room. Coach Coale, Danielle Robinson and Amanda Thompson met with the media in the NCAA press conference before the team took the court for an open practice in front of fans in San Antonio. We'll have photos and video posted shortly...
8:58 a.m. -- Mechelle Voepel of ESPN: "Thompson, a 6-foot-1 forward, was a cog player her first three seasons at Oklahoma -- the kind of cog that isn't very easy for a coach to find, but very necessary, because the machine can't really run without it. Thompson played through a painful shoulder injury that required surgery..."
Thompson is Irreplaceable Cog for Sooners - ESPN
Lynn Jacobson of the Tulsa World: "Because of her athletic prowess, Stevenson had the quickness to penetrate into the post and get to the rim, if not the size (5-foot-9) to play in the low post. "When we signed her, she was really raw," Coale said. "She was an athlete who had a very, very limited skill package. The ball came..."
OU Benefiting From Stevenson's Growth - Tulsa World
OU Women's Basketball Headlines
Amanda Thompson is OU's Go-Getter - The Oklahoman
Sooner Stars Help Stock With Tourney Play - Tulsa World
Sooners Have Bonds With Former Players - The Oklahoman
OU Senior Ready for Biggest Stage - Muskogee Phoenix
OU Thrives With Nation's Toughest Schedule - The Oklahoman
Matchup: Oklahoma vs. Stanford - San Antonio Express-News
SU Preps for OU's Talented Twosome - San Jose Mercury
WNBA Invites Amanda Thompson - The Oklahoman
Coale: Sooners Have That Look - The Oklahoman
W Hoops Anything But Dainty - San Antonio Express-News
VanDerveer Has Taken Stanford to Top - San Jose Mercury
Appel Sheds Boot, Watches Practice - San Francisco Chronicle
W Basketball Enters Final Phase - The Stanford Daily
2002 Sooners Share Thoughts on Team - The Oklahoman
8:18 a.m. -- The Sooners will have breakfast and a film session at the hotel before departing for the Alamodome at 10:15 a.m. The team will hold an autograph session from 10:45-11:15 a.m. and then an open practice beginning at 12:05 p.m.
|| Friday, April 2
9:37 p.m. -- The Sooners have returned from the highlight of the day, a salute dinner and ceremony presented by the NCAA at the Convention Center just blocks away from the Alamodome. Each of the four teams participating in the Final Four were treated to dinner, then driven by limousine to a red carpet walkway to enter the building. ESPN's Hannah Storm emceed the night's activities as each team was introduced by a student-athlete and then joined the four coaches on stage for a brief Q&A.
Sooners at NCAA Salute Dinner
4:34 p.m. -- View photos from Ty Russell of players and coaches from Friday morning's practice at Trinity University. On Saturday, the Sooners will hold an autograph session beginning at 10:45 a.m. and open practice for fans starting at 12:05 p.m. at the Alamodome.
Players and Coaches at Friday Morning Practice
4:03 p.m. -- As promised, here are video interviews with senior Abi Olajuwon and freshman Kodi Morrison providing their thoughts on playing in the Final Four. Yes, that's the Alamo in the background (we were waiting for the team bus):
Senior Abi Olajuwon on Team's Energy & Attitude
Freshman Kodi Morrison on Joining Team, Hitting Big Shots
3:31 p.m. -- The team just made it back to the hotel after a tour of the Alamo. We filmed interviews with senior Abi Olajuwon and freshman Kodi Morrison to get their perspectives on playing in the Final Four. We'll post them here in a few minutes. Enjoy this clip of the Alamo tour courtesy "Pee Wee's Big Adventure". Needless to say, we did not see the kitchen of the Alamo women, much less the basement. Let's hold all questions until the end of the tour....
Our Alamo Tour Wasn't Quite Like This
1:43 p.m. -- We talked with Coach Coale following OU's practice this morning at Trinity University. Coale seemed pleased with the team's focus and also delivered a message to Sooner fans:
Coach Coale Following Team's First Practice
The Sooners just finished shooting videos for the TV broadcast and completed interviews with ESPN. The team will tour the Alamo this afternoon before attending a dinner with Stanford, Baylor and UConn this evening at the San Antonio Convention Center.
10:16 a.m. -- We have a schedule of events for Sooners fans who have made their way down to San Antonio:
Saturday April 3
10:45 a.m.-11:15 a.m. - OU autograph session (Alamodome)
12:05 p.m. - 1:05 p.m. - OU open practice (Alamodome)
3:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. - Battle of the Bands (Alamodome)
5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. - AT&T Mascot Challenge (International Ctr)
Sunday, April 4
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - River Rally (River Walk)
4:00 p.m. - OU Pep Rally (Westin Riverwalk)
4:20 p.m. (Approximately) - Team send-off (Westin Riverwalk)
6:00 p.m. - OU vs. Stanford (Alamodome)
10:04 a.m. -- Oklahoma is holding its first practice in San Antonio this morning on the campus of Trinity University. View a few quick photos as practice gets started for the Sooners:
April 2 Practice at Trinity University
7:26 a.m. -- It's a beautiful morning in San Antonio. Preparations for the Final Four begin today as the Sooners will practice off-site, then take part in interviews for the television and national radio broadcasts of the game. Later, all four remaining teams will be honored in a special salute dinner.
But first, a big shout-out to Dan Hodes, who prepared this year's preseason rankings for ESPN The Magazine. He's the only one who had the Sooners in the top four. For now, here's the morning scoop:
"Stevenson was "the most comfortable kid in the world, making eye contact with people in the arena, speaking clearly and articulately, making sense, having a direction,'' Coale said. "She's a kid that when she came in here, looked at the floor when she talked to you. She's a great story.''
Associated Press: Stevenson matures during Final Four run
"Why would you just touch what happened in the men's tournament?" Coale said. "I'm speechless to even respond to it. How could you ask for a better sporting event than what just occurred?"
Connecticut Day: Tourney expansion a hot topic
"I don't know what I'm going to do when our last game comes, even if it's a win. I love all of them so much," OU guard Nyeshia Stevenson said. "Not being able to play with them anymore is going to be incredibly sad and it will hurt. I'd like to cushion it with it being a win."
Norman Transcript: Sooners arrive at Final Four as a team
"To me, honestly, I had never been the underdog, and coming in this year it feels good to rise up above other people's standards," Stevenson said."
Oklahoma Daily: Sooners embrace underdog role
"If there were any doubters out there about our league, they've been made believers," said OU coach Sherri Coale, whose squad faces No. 1 seed Stanford on Sunday in the semifinals. "You can't look at this without realizing the depth and parity in our league."
San Antonio News-Express: Big 12 represents half the fun
"Coale saw the necessary look in the first few minutes of the regional championship game against Kentucky, which had OU in a 15-2 hole. "Even when we were dismal in the first five minutes, the look in the huddle was one of belief," Coale said."
The Oklahoman: OU has that look | Notebook
"There's a way most coaches talk about freshmen ... that they are trying to learn a lot in a short amount of time, and thus often get brain overload and might struggle to actually take any of it in. Then there's the way Oklahoma's Sherri Coale describes it: "It's like they're thirsty for a drink -- and you're spraying them with a water hose."
ESPN.com: Straight from the coaches' mouths
"That's a good thing, that we don't have one premier name," junior guard Danielle Robinson said Thursday, not long before the Sooners left for Texas. ''You know that if one of us is off, somebody else is going to pick up the slack. You just never know with us who it's going to be and that's a great thing."
Associated Press: Sooners at Final Four without a star
"I checked my kids out of school early, this is something that we'll make a memory today, they enjoy watching the games and we come to them as often as possible and this was something very important to be here," said Misty Pruitt, OU fan."
KSBI: Fans send off Sooners
"If the Cardinal backcourt exhibits the kind of "deer-in-the-headlights" tightness it had in Stanford's zany 55-53 win against Xavier in the Sacramento Regional final, VanDerveer's troops will be walking the plank at the Riverwalk by 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening."
Palo Alto Daily News: Time for the Stanford bigs to get mean
"There are more similarities than differences between the teams," VanDerveer said. "It's a great matchup and it should make for a real exciting game. Oklahoma has great guard play and they have been there before."
Palo Alto Online: Stanford hops to make some noise in the Final Four
|| Thursday, April 1
10:37 p.m. -- The Sooners have touched down in San Antonio and, of course, were greeted by a mariachi band at the hotel. The weather is great and the environment is lively as OU's hotel is situated next to the riverwalk. As the team explored the area, they received cheers from the many well-wishers on the boats and sidewalks passing by the hotel.
Arrival | San Antonio's Lyndsey Cloman | Photo Gallery
5:14 p.m. -- OU is in flight, some 30,000 feet above the ground and 200 miles from San Antonio.
Thank you to the dozens of Sooner fans who greeted the team as it left the Lloyd Noble Center and the thousands who joined them in spirit.
The Sooners are appearing in their second straight Final Four, and third in the past nine seasons. OU's 2002 Final Four appearance was also the last at the Alamodome, so there's already quite a familiarity between the city and the program.
The team will arrive at its hotel in just over an hour and take its first steps in the city where it will begin its quest for a national title. Tonight's activities are light with just a dinner and meeting on the schedule. Tomorrow is a different story, as practice and interview sessions begin.
3:47 p.m. -- Amanda Thompson was announced Thursday as one of 14 women's basketball prospects invited to the 2010 WNBA Draft Thursday, April 8, at the NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J.
Among the headliners are Final Four participants Tina Charles and Kalana Green of Connecticut and Jayne Appel of Stanford.
ESPN2 and ESPN3.com will provide live coverage and analysis of the first round of the draft beginning at 2 p.m. Central. ESPNU and NBA TV will broadcast the second and third rounds.
The Connecticut Sun have top No. 1 pick in the draft followed by the Minnesota Lynx, who have picks No. 2 and No. 3.
1:43 p.m. -- From OU Senior Associate AD for Communications Kenny Mossman: " The commentary relative to the Oklahoma women's basketball program is coming fast and furious these days, just the way it should for a team that makes the Final Four...."
Mossman: The Oklahoma Experience
9:28 a.m. -- Come see the Sooners before they leave for San Antonio and the Final Four. The team will depart from the southwest side of the Lloyd Noble Center at 3 p.m. The University of Oklahoma is inviting all supporters of the OU women's basketball team to join us as we send them off. Fans should arrive by 2:45 p.m. and park in the south lots of the Lloyd Noble Center complex.
From the Norman Transcript: "They don't have to be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed to reach the Final Four. They're dangerous from anywhere in the bracket. They have the tradition and the blessing of internally high expectations. They're the kind of program that can sputter along and still opposing coaches will say something like..."
New Ground for Sooner Women - Norman Transcript
Lynn Jacobson of the Tulsa World: "It just feels like we are going to fight through anything," senior center Abi Olajuwon said. "The adversity that we have had to overcome and we have always had a small roster, and we are close. To me, they are not my teammates, they are my family. You'll do anything for your family and..."
Sooners Overcome Losses With Big Season - Tulsa World
OU Women's Basketball Headlines
Notebook: Big 12 Respect, Seniors - Tulsa World
Big 12 Represents Half the Fun - San Antonio Express-News
Pedersen, Posts Give Stanford the Edge - ESPN
Jayne Appel the Key for Stanford - The Oklahoman
The State Will be Pulling for the Sooners -Tulsa World
Scouting the Stanford Cardinal - The Oklahoman
Learning About the Stanford Cardinal -Tulsa World
Stanford Grateful for Opportunity - San Jose Mercury News
Survival Brings Appreciation - San Francisco Chronicle
Stanford Eager to Take Next Step -San Jose Mercury News
Pohlen's Speed is Deceptive, Effective -Sacramento Bee
|| Tuesday, March 30
10:06 p.m. -- OU has had a 17-6 run with Robinson on the bench. Incredible.
Sooners feeling it as Thompson stands at the line. Smiles for the players in white.
Oklahoma putting the finishing touches on another Elite Eight victory.
Hope you have reservations for San Antonio.
9:58 p.m. -- Olajuwon OK after hitting the deck hard. Robinson gets foul number four after taking a swipe at Smith and she'll go to the bench. Is the tide turning blue?
Hartman hasn't scored much this season, but every point she's had has been huge, always coming in a wave of momentum swings. Hartman's latest 2 sends OU up by 14 points. Jasmine's a passer by experience and as she's matured as a point guard, she's developing into quite the threat.
Kentucky forced to press and the Sooners find Stevenson alone beyond the arc. It's almost automatic now -- 3 points. The Sooners take a 69-50 lead.
Both teams getting gassed now with the back and forth play. Coale calls time before the media break to get an extra spell. She's been using those wisely this entire game, keeping Sooners on the floor rested and, importantly, stopping them from making lazy fouls.
UK has to foul now that it's under 4 minutes. Thompson free throws make the lead 21 points -- a third-stage blowout.
Oklahoma leads 77-56 with 3:54 to play.
9:38 p.m. -- Kentucky getting flustered and looking for Dunlap to make the plays. The 'Cats aren't able to defend pass to, or contain, Olajuwon and are picking up fouls.
Oklahoma getting fatigued, losing its legs and standing on defense. Coale calls timeout to hopefully rejuvenate her squad with just nine minutes to play.
OU leads 58-50 with 9:05 on the clock.
9:31 p.m. -- Kentucky goes tall, installing Rebecca Gray on the wing. I say tall, but she's 5-10, which is tall for one of UK's guards.
OU can't miss and Kentucky can't hold the ball long enough to do damage.
Oklahoma leads 58-44 with 11:56 to play. The Sooners can cruise if Robinson's doesn't pick up a fourth foul.
9:26 p.m. -- Oklahoma looking Kentucky-esque to start the second half with ball-hawking plays by the backcourt. Stevenson's scored seven of OU's 11 this half and has 24 tonight.
Still no Ashley Judd, though.
9:07 p.m. -- Apparently the defense doesn't stop once you leave the court at the Sprint Center. Oklahoma ran to the locker room at halftime to find the doors locked. Uh-oh. Guess we'll be drawing plays in the sand for the rest of the night.
9:05 p.m. -- After Kentucky threatened to make the game an early blowout, the Sooners wore away a 10-point lead by scoring 18 points off turnovers to lead by four at halftime. Stevenson didn't show up late to this party either, scoring 17 first-half points to counter SEC Player of the Year Victoria Dunlap's 18.
Oklahoma shooting 64 percent from the field compared to Kentucky's 45 percent. Neither team especially hot from beyond the arc with OU 2-of-9 and UK 2-for-5.
Kentucky holds the rebounding advantage 16-13, but the 'Cats corralled the first five of the game, so its been to OU's advantage for the most recent part of the game.
8:57 p.m. -- Robinson makes the jumper count as she's fouled with the shot clock at 3. Inconsistent whistling making Kentucky play a little outside the bounds of the rules when it comes to contact.
Both teams very proficient in free throw shooting tonight.
Stevenson playing the inside game to perfection tonight after hitting everything beyond the arc Sunday. Twelve of Stevenson's 15 points coming from less than four feet away. No defense for that on a 3-pointer shooter.
Too much speed from Robinson, as she's become accustomed to taking the double-team.
Oklahoma leads at half, 43-39.
8:45 p.m. -- Kentucky keeping pace on offense, but getting careless on defense with fouling and losing track of players to block out for rebounds.
Stevenson playing one of her best perimeter defense games of the season, getting her second steal -- and third fast-break layup off a turnover -- this game.
Oklahoma 34, Kentucky 32 - 3:55.
8:40 p.m. -- The energy has shifted from blue to crimson as Robinson makes her free throw.
Thompson baits Dunlap into taking a swipe at the ball and dribble behind the back and hits her jumper. UK turns it over again as Smith bumps into Robinson and loses her focus. Mitchell calls time as Stevenson flashes in the paint and plays catch-and-shoot with Roethlisberger's dish.
8:35 p.m. -- A great inbounds catch-and-shoot by Roethlisberger and fast-break layup off a steal by Stevenson make it a four-point game. The pressure gets to Kentucky again and they turn it over by OU's bench.
Robinson's swooping layup makes it a one-possession game -- this is against the UK starters, by the way, who checked in after the last timeout. UK misses another jumper and Thompson corrals the ball. Stevenson hammered and hits the deck on her 3 attempt, but no whistle.
Robinson finds Stevenson streaking down the court for an easy fast-break layup, tying the game; then steals a pass at midcourt and gets the And 1. The All-American point guard taking over.
Media timeout. Thompson screams, "let's go!" toward the Sooner faithful behind the bench.
Oklahoma leads 27-25, 7:41 p.m.
8:27 p.m. -- McFarland checks in for Olajuwon. Robinson regroups the team out of the bench huddle to calm the nerves.
OU still not getting block outs and Coale sends Roethlisberger in for Hartman. OU finally gets a rebound and McFarland hands off to Robinson, but OU loses the handle for the third straight possession and Kentucky goes up 15-2. Five turnovers for OU before Thompson finally breaks the streak and hits a jumper.
Mitchell sends in a trio of 'Cats to give starters a quick rest before the next media break. Thompson goes into warrior mode -- hitting a 3 and getting a defensive rebound.
McFarland tagged for a second foul and Olajuwon returns to the game as free throws put UK up 19-7. Olajuwon finds the net and Kentucky misses. Thompson's jumper is short and Roethlisberger gets the rebound, goes up and is fouled. Great fight from Carlee under the rim.
Roethlisberger's free throw is wide and Thompson scoops the loose ball, finds Stevenson for 3.
Kentucky isn't playing a zone, but is sending two players off the initial half-court movement to follow Robinson when she has the ball to get in passing lanes. It's working 50-50 at the moment, but Mitchell might let it play as long as OU continues to miss first-chances -- living and dying on the Sooners' supporting cast to do the dirty work.
Kentucky 21, Oklahoma 13 - 11:26.
8:15 p.m. -- Stevenson's free throws become OU's first points. The Sooners losing comfortability with every scoreless possession, because Kentucky can really get to rebounds and limit second-chance opportunities. The Wildcats take a 10-point lead in just four minutes.
UK 12, OU 2 - 15:53.
8:11 p.m. -- Kentucky opens a 6-0 lead before missing its first field goal. OU just can't make one fall and can't get to rebounds against a stingy 'Cats defense. Coale calls timeout as UK takes an 8-0 lead. Nothing here the Sooners didn't see on the game film in meetings the past two days. The start is reminiscent of Kentucky's upset victory over Nebraska on Sunday.
8:07 p.m. -- Starting lineups are complete and the ball is about to be in the air. The crowd isn't a large as Sunday, as most of the traveling Nebraska fans have returned home, but the energy is still fantastic.
7:57 p.m. -- There's usually not a big rah, rah pep speech in the OU locker room at this point before a game. Typically, Coale reviews the plan of the game and the keys to victory with the limited time allotted before teams must return to the court. Very focused, very specific use of time for Coale, who is coaching her 33rd NCAA Championship game. Matthew Mitchell is coaching just his third for Kentucky.
7:54 p.m. -- The National Anthem has played and both teams adjourn to locker rooms for final words from the head coaches. At the Sprint Center, the U.S. flag is hanging from the rafters directly behind team benches, forcing everyone on this half of the court to turn away from the floor (except for the sprinkling of folks who remain looking at the center-hung videoboard). This is an area where OU gets it right every time by having members of the University's ROTC present the colors at mid court, keep attention focused where it is designed to be directed.
7:48 p.m. -- Oklahoma is the home team, in white, as the higher seed. Kentucky is in blue. I am still awaiting Ashley Judd's arrival. Ashley, if you're reading: there's not an empty seat on press row, but I can make one.
7:37 p.m. -- Here it is -- 30 minutes from tip-off and the last game to decide a Final Four participant. Baylor and Stanford punched tickets Monday and Connecticut looks to have the handle on Florida State in the second half of its regional final.
Oklahoma will start its usual crew of Nyeshia Stevenson, Danielle Robinson, Amanda Thompson, Abi Olajuwon and Jasmine Hartman. Kentucky will start A'ida Mathies, Keyla Snowden, Amber Smith, Amani Franklin and Victoria Dunlap.
OU's Danielle Robinson and UK's Victoria Dunlap were named to the AP All-America team earlier today.
Tonight's officials are Dee Kantner, Denise Brooks and Bryan Brunette.
3:57 p.m. -- Oklahoma has completed its final shootaround in preparation for tonight's matchup with Kentucky in the Elite Eight. The sun is out in Kansas City, the lights are on in the Sprint Center and the fireworks get started at 8 p.m.
Oklahoma has been in this position before, and decided to bring its own trophy to the game today.
Oklahoma's Freedom Trophy
11:38 a.m. -- If you're in Kansas City, send off the Sooners as they depart for their Elite Eight matchup with Kentucky. The OU Alumni Association is asking fans to be at the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel at 401 Ward Parkway in Kansas City at 5:45 p.m.
10:15 a.m. -- It's gameday! Two teams are in the Final Four and two more will be decided tonight. Baylor and Stanford advanced after amazing finishes.
"It could be the urgency," the 6-foot-4 Olajuwon said Monday. "Every game could be my last, and when you think of it that way and your back is against the wall, you're going to do anything and everything to make sure that it isn't until it's the last game and you're OK with it being the last one. But you don't want your season to end, and you do everything in your power to make sure that that doesn't happen."
Kansas City Star: Olajuwon waited behind Paris before excelling
"Playing in the nation's toughest women's basketball conference has prepared Oklahoma well in its 2010 NCAA Tournament run. Whether that transcends into a third Final Four appearance since 2002 remains to be seen."
Tulsa World: Sooners brace for Kentucky
"There were a lot of big moments in the year," the third-year coach said. "And they have resisted the urge to do that. They have continued to punch through. ... Everyone is aware of what's on the line. It's a big moment. There's no doubt about that. I think it's silly to say it's just another game. It's not."
Standing in the way is a colossal opponent.
Louisville Courier-Journal: Kentucky on cusp of first Final Four
"I think we have a pretty good guess (what it will be like) because we play in the Big 12 South. If anything can prepare you for that, it is that," Coale said. "We've played Texas A&M three times. We've played Baylor three times. We've learned some things about ourselves over the course of that ... I think we're probably just about as prepared as anybody could be."
Norman Transcript: Sooners, 'Cats meet in Elite Eight
"I think there are very few players anywhere today who are even OK with sitting as freshmen," OU coach Sherri Coale said. "Kids today come in and they want to immediately play for 35 minutes. They think they're entitled to that because they got a scholarship. Abi was so different from that, and so refreshing."
ESPN.com: Olajuwon making most of senior season
"They are as equipped to handle what we do as anybody that we've played up to this point," Mitchell said, noting Oklahoma is a team that executes back-door plays effectively, which could be problematic for Kentucky. "It's going to be a mental game for us now," he said. "We're going to have to commit more than ever to our defensive fundamentals."
Lexington Herald-Leader: Defense motivates these 'Cats
|| Monday, March 29
4:12 p.m. -- Here's a photo gallery from today's activities courtesy of Ty Russell.
1:21 p.m. -- Oklahoma is on the court at the Sprint Center for its Monday practice and the first time the Sooners have prepared physically for its Elite Eight matchup against Kentucky. The Wildcats are the surprise of the tournament, but they've been carried by hot shooting and great athleticism from hoopsters like SEC Player of the Year Victoria Dunlap.
All five Oklahoma starters and head coach Sherri Coale took part in a noon news conference and then recorded interviews for Westwood One's national radio broadcast that will be hosted by Craig Way and Sooner legend Stacey Dales.
News Conference Quotes: Oklahoma | Kentucky
11:02 a.m. -- From Sweet to Elite, what a game between Oklahoma and Notre Dame last night. It's becoming quite a rivalry that I'm sure will continue for the next several years. Today in Kansas City, OU administrators are going through transitional meetings and getting prepared for any future advancement for the Sooners and the team will return to the Sprint Center for another news conference and a practice this afternoon. After that's its rest and relaxation after a tough, well-contested game and preparation for playing Kentucky Tuesday night at 8 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNHD.
Here's the scoop:
"Oklahoma's three seniors, including blossoming star Nyeshia Stevenson, have spent most of their four years overshadowed by superstars. On Sunday night, Stevenson made one of the biggest shots in recent Oklahoma women's basketball history, while fellow seniors Abi Olajuwon and Amanda Thompson both had double-doubles."
Tulsa World: Seniors drive Sooners | Notebook
"She finished with six points, four rebounds, five assists and three turnovers, but all the turnovers came before the half and all the assists came near the end. It was Hartman who dished the Sooners' last three assists. She found Abi Olajuwon, who put the Sooners up 68-66. Then she found Robinson, who put the Sooners up 70-68. Then she found Stevenson to bring the house down."
Norman Transcript: Hartman's hands all over victory
"I actually turned the ball over trying to pass it (two years ago)," Stevenson said of the 79-75 overtime loss to the Irish in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. "It was one of those young things. I had Courtney and Ashley Paris and Danielle Robinson on my team, and I was trying to get the ball to them to knock down the shot. I played that back in my head. I know how much I ran from it my sophomore year. I was not going to (run from it) this year."
Tulsa World: Booster shot
"While Olajuwon's 20 points fell short of her career high -- that came earlier this season when she scored 25 points against Cal State-Fullerton -- she has never had a bigger game. She was a reserve, after all, these past three seasons. She was on the bench in every big game."
The Oklahoman: Olajuwon's biggest game helps Sooners advance | Notebook
"When her team needed a big shot late in overtime in its NCAA regional game against Notre Dame, the pressure rising as each second ticked closer to the buzzer, Stevenson wasn't about to bail out. Not this time. So she sprinted the court baseline at the Sprint Center. Stevenson had followed the same steps in several late-game possessions but because senior teammate Abi Olajuwon was playing hard in the post, she wasn't needed."
Kansas City Star: Oklahoma downs Notre Dame in overtime
Lindsay Schrader could sense where the pass was going. Notre Dame's senior guard left her wing spot and raced toward Oklahoma's Nyeshia Stevenson in the corner. The pass beat her there. "I got over there as fast as I could, and she let it fly," Schrader said. "She was hitting them all game. I guess that was my fault. I should have been more conscious of where she was."
South Bend Tribune: Sooners end Notre Dame's season in Sweet 16
"Stevenson had vowed she wouldn't miss again. Said if the game was on the line and the ball was in her hands, the Sooners could count on victory. The girl shot straight, both in word and deed."
The Oklahoman: Sooners swish upon their star
|| Sunday, March 28
8:35 p.m. -- Notre Dame's inbounds in captured by Stevenson. Free throws with 3.0 seconds. See you Tuesday!
Oklahoma 77, Notre Dame 72. Another barnburner in the series. Amazing game. Great effort by both teams for 45 minutes.
8:33 p.m. -- Stevenson's free throws 2-for-2. As many photographers have cameras pointed at her as they do OU bench for reaction.
Schrader goes over Olajuwon to tied it up. ND in zone. One shot.
Robinson with the ball and 20 seconds. Stevenson hits the 3 with 4.4 seconds.
8:29 p.m. -- OU is in its fourth overtime this season, a program record. OU and ND trade possessions before each gets 2.
Hartman finds Robinson for a patented 14-footer. Notre Dame goes small, entering Mallory for Schrader. Robinson questioning why a foul wasn't called on her layup attempt that sent the ball into orbit.
Thompson's jumper misses as the shot clock nears expiration. Notre Dame still can't get a shot to fall and Hartman ropes in the loose ball.
Sooners have only a 2-point lead, but are using as much clock as possible. Ball doesn't find net. Lechlitner's fade away off the screen drops to tie the game. One minute left.
The alley-oop to Stevenson is high, but she's got a 34-inch vertical and grabs the ball, lands, goes up and is fouled.
Stevenson was on point for OU's last overtime game versus Notre Dame in the second round in 2008. She dribbled the ball off her foot. Time to make amends.
70-70 with 45.3 seconds to play.
8:22 p.m. -- Notre Dame has fouls to give and does. Twice. Clock at 7.0 for OU's final possession. Robinson loses control and the ball is tied up with one-tenth on the clock.
Overtime. OU is 3-0 in the extra period this season. Let's go.
8:20 p.m. -- Olajuwon gets to the rack, but Diggins ties the game with a 3. OU has 34 seconds to move the ball and brings it to half court as Coale calls timeout.
29.0 seconds remain.
8:15 p.m. -- Notre Dame cuts the lead. Olajuwon with her 14th point. Notre Dame gets a shot and 1 freebie coming back from this timeout.
OU leads 64-62 with 1:08 to play.
8:12 p.m. -- OU's half court offense works on Peters as Thompson slips underneath for 2. Barlow makes her jumper. OU's shot misses, but Olajuwon rips away a pass to Peters and Thompson comes up court with the ball. Coale calls time.
This has all the makings of the classic Oklahoma-Notre Dame game. Yes, there's only been four, but the average margin of victory is under six points. That's where we are tonight. A grinder.
OU leads 60-56 with 3:18 to play.
8:04 p.m. -- The Sooner fans are so loud tonight, they are literally blowing the roof off the Sprint Center. Confetti has started dropping from the rafters.
Notre Dame takes advantage of a sluggish OU team coming from that last timeout and scores a quick 4. The Sooners wake up and Olajuwon's fight pays off -- she's fouled after a few second chances to putback layups. Media timeout at 10:46.
Olajuwon with a rare free-throw miss this postseason. Then Robinson fouls Lechlitner just beyond the half court line. Schrader gets between McFarland and the rim for 2. Stevenson's 3 off target and McFarland fouls Novosel under the other basket. Coale tells Robinson to watch for the press. Ashley Barlow checks in for Lechlitner. The press comes, but OU handles it.
Robinson's two attempts go wide. Sooners guard against the Irish twice on the inbounds before Robinson is called for a blocking foul as Barlow drops her shoulder into her. That's 3 fouls for Robinson and reminiscent of the game in the Virgin Islands. Barlow restores an Irish lead, but OU's transition gets the ball into Olajuwon for an easy two.
Stevenson 3 goes right. Thompson dives to the deck to force the ball the direction of a Sooner. Robinson with the baseline cut and gets fouled -- shot drops. D-Rob completes the 3-point play and OU takes a 4-point lead.
Robinson wants this game. She's taking over. In-and-out, side-to-side, maybe even back in time once before Diggins is exhausted and sprinted around and Robinson makes the layup.
Thompson takes her 10th rebound. OU loses the handle and Barlow runs away with the ball. Stevenson gets tagged with a foul as Barlow loses control and tumbles over her, but not before throwing up an attempt at the rim.
OU leads 56-50 with 7:14 to play.
7:50 p.m. -- The shot clock expires as Devereaux Peters gets her missed layup and tries to put it back. No go. A loose ball last touched by OU is left alone near the baseline. A.T. swoops from nowhere to deflect it off of Diggins for another great hustle play -- she's OU's career leader in those.
Notre Dame keeps forcing the ball inside and turning it over as the Sooners swarm in the paint and disarm the passing lanes. Olajuwon left loose in her territory on OU's side and gives the Sooners an 8-point advantage. McGraw has to call time once again.
OU leads 48-40 -- 12:07.
7:40 p.m. -- Stevenson drops in her fourth 3-pointer. Hartman drops her second. Great time of the season to be hot shooters. Oklahoma goes up 6.
It's Hartman's third career game with multiple 3-pointers and Stevenson's ninth with at least four (OU is 7-1 in those games). Stevenson's improvement as a shooter has been nothing short of Earth-shattering. As a freshman, she connected on just 18 percent of her 3-pointers and less than 30 percent of her 2s. Now she's among the best ever in Sooner history for proficiency.
Loose rebound out of bounds stops the clock.
Oklahoma leads 44-38 - 15:26.
7:37 p.m. -- Notre Dame still in a zone and OU turns it over. Robinson moving a little gimpy; she's taken some hard shots this...well, all postseason. Oklahoma passing well, but not getting shots and didn't respond well in the last transition as Notre Dame tied the game.
Coale calls time to refocus her team.
OU 38, Notre Dame 38 - 17:34 2nd.
7:33 p.m. -- Olajuwon, Roethlisberger and Thompson will have to watch their fouls in the second half as each comes back with two. Only Notre Dame players with two fouls are reserves, who've combined for 13 minutes.
7:30 p.m. -- How's this for even?
Points in the Paint: OU leads 12-10
Points off turnovers: Tied 7-7
Second-chance points: Tied 3-3
Fast break points: ND leads 2-0
Bench points: Tied 2-2.
7:18 p.m. -- Robinson robs Lechlitner and gets fouled. Great play to squash any momentum Notre Dame wanted to build coming out of its timeout. Hold on for 21 seconds.
Notre Dame's shot drops. Robinson speed cross court with less than 5 seconds and fires a prayer from 2/3 court distance that catches front iron as the buzzer blows.
Oklahoma 36, Notre Dame 32 at the half.
7:15 p.m. -- "1-2-3 rebound!" is the breakout from the OU huddle. The Sooners have a one-rebound edge entering the final 2 1/2 minutes.
Hartman called for the charge on Williamson while looking to pass. Roethlisberger steals another pass on the defensive end.
Notre Dame sets up in zone with a minute to play. Passing angles are the key. Hartman says nuts to that and fires a 3. It's good. McGraw calls timeout.
OU 34, Notre Dame 30, 34.7 seconds remain.
7:09 p.m. -- McFarland and Olajuwon on the court together and OU gets the defensive rebound but doesn't get its shot to fall on the other end. Thompson in for Olajuwon. The names change, but the story stays the same and OU gets another defensive rebound. Roethlisberger misses a jumper, but answers with a defensive rebound. Robinson short with a jumper.
Diggins acting as a decoy in the Notre Dame half court sets, just waiting for the Sooners to slack off and get open for a long-range attempt. No fooling Roethlisberger, who sticks like glue.
Great effort from Roethlisberger this interval, getting to rebounds, getting open on offense and causing a couple turnovers. Stevenson drops the hammer from 3 and OU has its largest lead, 29-26.
Robinson dictates the pace as the clock goes below 4 minutes, finds Roethlisberger mid-air, who connects for 2. Lechliter gets open on the other side.
Amanda Thompson-style rebounding continues from Amanda Thompson. She's not about to let her senior season expire.
Oklahoma 31, Notre Dame 28 with 2:28 left before half.
7:01 p.m. -- Notre Dame instituting a press, but that likely won't frustrate the Sooners, who seem to see versions of it almost every game now.
McFarland gives some good minutes inside before Olajuwon returns from her extended rest and the Irish give up the press after a couple possessions. Still, both teams trade baskets. It's going to be a street fight all night. The team that stays out of foul trouble might have the victory when its all said and done.
OU 22, ND 21, 7:43 left in the first.
6:52 p.m. -- After OU wasn't even in the neighborhood for a rebound early, they are getting almost every loose ball now. The Sooners are playing inspired defense like they've talked about every minute of practice this week. The field goal percentages are skyrocketing for both teams, too, as they are patient and taking their best options.
This is the fight that was expected.
Oklahoma leads 18-16 with 11:09 left in the half.
6:42 p.m. -- It's Hartman defending Diggins and Robinson defending Lechlitner. Together they cause Notre Dame to turnover the ball without even getting a look at a shot. Olajuwon puts the elbow in Williamson's chest and gets called for the offensive foul. Lechlitner's jumper falls. Stevenson's 3 finds its target.
Sooners abandoning the paint early, making it too easy for Notre Dame to use it screens and drive or pass into the middle. Stevenson on fire from 3 keeping OU in the game. Olajuwon gets the And 1 and that has inspired her defense as well.
Olajuwon makes her free throw -- she's 15-of-19 from the line in the postseason -- to add to her impressive tally since shooting just 60 percent in the regular season.
Oklahoma doing early what it couldn't in the Virgin Islands, and that was drive on the Irish and get points and fouls. So far, Olajuwon and Thompson have tagged Notre Dame with And 1s.
OU and Notre Dame tied at 11 at the first media timeout, 15:11.
6:33 p.m. -- Starting lineups being announced. Oklahoma is in its crimson jersey for the first time since playing at College Station on March 2. OU was the higher seed in all of its postseason games until tonight. The Sooners have a 9-5 record when wearing crimson this season.
6:25 p.m. -- Stacey Dales is in the house. Dales is here tonight as a fan, but will be on assignment the rest of the week in Kansas City, working with Craig Way for the Westwood One Radio team that will provide a national broadcast of the regional final.
6:21 p.m. -- The National Anthem has played an OU has return to its locker room for Sherri Coale's final instruction before the teams come out again for starting lineups and tip-off.
Oklahoma has a slight edge in fans compared to Notre Dame, but the Huskers are in the house in full force, ready to see their squad play Kentucky later this evening.
5:56 p.m. -- Oklahoma will start Nyeshia Stevenson, Danielle Robinson, Amanda Thompson, Abi Olajuwon and Jasmine Hartman. Notre Dame's probable starters are Skylar Diggins, Ashley Barlow, Melissa Lechlitner, Lindsey Schrader and Erica Williamson.
Tonight's officials are Dennis Demayo, Laura Morris and Joseph Vaszily.
Most of the attention has been drawn to the two point guards -- Diggins and Robinson -- but I believe we will see this game played out in the paint. Olajuwon will need a big game for the Sooners going against 6-foot-4 counterpart Williamson.
5:50 p.m. -- We're 45 minutes away from the start of Oklahoma/Notre Dame. The Sooners have just gone into the locker room from their initial pre-game warmup to the infectious sounds of Boomer Sooner played by the OU band. Notre Dame's pep squad counters with the Victory March and the Irish fan base -- wearing so much green it looks like St. Patrick's Day once again.
2:20 p.m. -- Oklahoma's rematch with Notre Dame is as much as look to the past as it is a look to the present, with a lot of focus on the earlier season matchup and a NCAA second round battle played in 2008. The Sooners, though, found another way to step back in time at their afternoon shootaround at Rockhurst University's Mason-Halpin Fieldhouse.
The scene isn't as animated as those in sparsely-seated venues in old basketball movies, but the atmosphere is similar. A 1,100-seat gym plotted just off the Plaza District in Kansas City was the antithesis of the environment the stands just blocks away at the Sprint Center. It serves as reminder of the magnitude of tonight's game as much as it does the growth of women's basketball.
It was 20 years ago today that Oklahoma's program ceased existence. The uproar was nationwide and it was soon restored, but far from stabilized. Sherri Coale was hired 14 seasons ago and the average crowd at the time wasn't large enough to even make chatter loud enough to deafen the vibrations coming from the heating system in the corner of this gym.
OU, in the midst of its 11th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, plays tonight in its fourth Sweet 16 in the last five seasons in front on an estimated 8,000 fans -- what would be an average crowd for a regular-season game at the Lloyd Noble Center. Amazing as the success has been, it's just as marvelous to watch the process on a daily basis.
Assistant coach Jan Ross walks the defense through Notre Dame's scouted offensive attack, telling the players to charge with what?
"Reckless abandon" is shouted by the 10 players on the parquet floor.
The players take as much joy moving half-speed through the drills in front of half a dozen support staff members as they do playing against real opponents in front of 10,000.
As the Sooners wrap, Sherri Coale stretches and checks text messages from scores of well-wishers. Ross spins a ball on her finger at center court. The student managers ham it up as Ty Russell walks the baseline, snapping photos.
There are no more Cinderella stories for Sooner basketball and this group is well aware of the expectations. Winning is the norm, and two more find the team to its second straight Final Four. The group has been conditioned to play with fire and joy, pride and fearlessness.
Cool, bright attitudes prevail in this warm, dim gym. Looking forward to tonight.
8:50 a.m. -- It's game day! Oklahoma is on the court at the Sprint Center for its morning shootaround. There's no one in the seats right now, but they'll be packed tonight when Oklahoma/Notre Dame and Nebraska/Kentucky square off.
Here's the scoop this morning:
"In the hours before Robinson and her Oklahoma teammates played in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Sooner standout stole glimpses every now and again at what Diggins and her Notre Dame teammates were doing in their game."
The Oklahoman: Battle of the Guards | Notebook | Info
"Carlee Roethlisberger will have a big say in the Oklahoma women's bid to make the Final Four. The Sooners play Notre Dame tonight in an NCAA regional semifinal at the Sprint Center, and Roethlisberger will be needed. The 6-foot-1 junior forward has started 18 times and averaged 24 minutes a game."
The Oklahoman: Roethlisberger has tough name to live up to
"The players tutor in schools, deliver Meals on Wheels or just make appearances and sign autographs. They meet with their Stilettos support group and visit professional women in their workplaces. A few days ago, they helped serve meals at Food for Friends. Fans know them by their first names, their hometowns and even their birth dates, as evidence by the serenading of one in a tournament game last week."
Norman Transcript: 20 years ago today, OU axed women's basketball
"I think our kids feel comfortable here in Kansas City," OU coach Sherri Coale said during her pregame press conference Saturday. "I think we feel like we left some business unfinished in the Big 12 tournament."
Norman Transcript: Unfinished business for Sooners
"It started with (Coale) challenging us when we got back from the Virgin Islands to step up that much more, each person individually, to make up for the presence that Whitney had displayed on the floor," point guard Danielle Robinson said. "It was just us maturing, though, night in and night out and every day in practice."
Norman Transcript: Sooners two wins from return to Final Four
"The Sooners beat South Carolina 75-67 and pummeled San Diego State 87-48. The Irish beat South Carolina 78-55 and beat San Diego State 84-79. Both teams have played top-ranked Connecticut. OU lost to UConn 76-60 at Lloyd Noble Center. The Irish lost to UConn at UConn 70-46, lost to UConn in South Bend 76-51 and lost to UConn at the Big East Tournament 59-44."
Norman Transcript: No clear favorite today
"In the first game, Oklahoma also was hurt by foul trouble from Robinson, who sat for three minutes after picking up her fourth foul with 10:19 to play in the game."
Tulsa World: Sooners look to even score
You will see it in players who are leading this team, gals who might never have even considered OU if not for Courtney and Ashley. You will see it in habits that were copied and lessons that were learned. You will see it in newcomers who benefit from the sisters' influence even though they never even played with them."
The Oklahoman: The Paris effect
"The last time the Notre Dame and Oklahoma women's basketball teams were on the same turf, temperatures were in the 80s, the sun beamed down on a white sand beach and bikinis, not basketball uniforms, were the attire of the day."
South Bend Tribune: Irish, Sooners have changed
"She's probably in the top three (fastest) I've ever played against," Notre Dame 5-foot-9 guard Ashley Barlow said Saturday of her Oklahoma counterpart. "She might even be the top one."
South Bend Tribune: Is Irish 'D' up to speed?
"I said on the selection show that this might be the best coaching job she's done in her career when you look at what she lost. Not just the Paris twins but Whitney Hand. Losing her, not only what she brings on the court but her leadership, her energy, her passion for the game, that's a lot for a team to have to recover from."
The Oklahoman: Kara Lawson Q&A
"Sherri Coale remembers vividly the moment she allowed herself to dream about the possibility of becoming a Division I women's basketball coach. And not just any school, but the University of Oklahoma. She was in the car with best friend and college teammate Jan Ross."
Tulsa World: Coaches key for thriving Sooners
"Oklahoma is a much better team four months later, having been tested by the nation's toughest schedule. Notre Dame is too, though, which is why their rematch promises to be a good one. 'Over the course of the season we've figured out how to win games. It's not always pretty, but it's been quite effective,' Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. 'We're both different teams than we were at that time.'"
Associated Press: Sooners looking for payback
|| Saturday, March 27
2:30 p.m. -- Nyeshia Stevenson grabbed the video camera and takes a first-look tour of OU's digs for the weekend in the Sprint Center. Let it be known: it's spacious. There's also photos from OU's practice.
Stevenson Tour | Practice Photo Gallery
12:24 p.m. -- Oklahoma has finished its obligations to the media and is in the midst of its one-hour open practice on the Sprint Center court. The Sooners were asked about the difference in Sunday's game contrasted with the last time they played Notre Dame in November, when Whitney Hand was lost to a season-ending ACL injury the day before in a blowout win of San Diego State.
In scouting Notre Dame, Danielle Robinson said: "We just have to play hard on the defensive end. Barlow is a great shooter. Melissa does some great things at the point guard position, and Skylar, of course, is pretty much all around. So it's about guarding one on one, really, and guarding as a unit on top of that."
News Conference Quotes: Oklahoma | Notre Dame | Kentucky | Nebraska
10:45 a.m. -- The Sooners are en route to the Sprint Center for Saturday's interviews and practice session. Oklahoma is appearing in its eighth Sweet 16, and fourth in the last five years. The only blemish -- a second round overtime loss to Notre Dame in 2008. As if there isn't enough motivation to win on Sunday.
8:47 a.m. -- Inside the Sprint Center for Saturday morning's administrative meetings. The team will arrive at 11 a.m. for interviews and practice.
|| Friday, March 26
10:36 p.m. -- Several dozen hearty Sooner fans arrived at Lloyd Noble Center this afternoon to send off the team to the Sweet 16. The team landed in Kansas City after an 1 1/2 hour flight from Will Rogers World Airport and had dinner in the Plaza district that was concluded by an scintillating toast from OU regent Larry Wade, expressing the gratitude felt by all Sooner fans for a great season by a great group of young women.
Saturday morning, the Sooners step into the Sprint Center for the first time to conduct interviews with ESPN and the general media before taking to the court for a one-hour practice session.
9:43 p.m. -- Remember fans, the Sooners' Sweet 16 Send-Off is today just before 4 p.m. at the southwest corner of the Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners depart the Lloyd Noble Center at 4 p.m. and need your support. Fans should arrive at the southwest corner of the arena by 3:45 p.m. as the team will load its bus from the women's basketball offices.
Due to activity from the Medieval Fair at Reaves Park, vehicles will need to enter the LNC parking lots via G.T. Blankenship Drive (south side of the complex). Blankenship can be accessed from either Jenkins or Chautauqua Avenues.
Oklahoma meets Notre Dame in the Kansas City Regional Semifinal Sunday, March 28, at the Sprint Center. ESPN2HD will broadcast the game at 6:30 p.m. Central.
Here's the scoop for today:
"It began with Beky Preston passing on her knowledge of the women's game to Courtney Paris, who did the same with Abi Olajuwon. It's called paying it forward. And it is one reason why freshman center Joanna McFarland has progressed so rapidly in her first season with the Oklahoma women's basketball team."
Tulsa World: The Apprentice
"Notre Dame bested OU early in the season during a Thanksgiving tournament, immediately following the loss of sophomore guard Whitney Hand who went out for the season with an ACL injury. While the Sooners are still without Hand, this OU team is much different."
OU Daily: OU seeks redemption against Notre Dame
"Antonelli praised OU coach Sherri Coale for making better use of Thompson's talents as a power forward in the Sooners' triangle offense following the departure of the Paris twins. Thompson has responded by averaging 13.0 points and 10.5 rebounds a game with 63 steals and 43 blocks. 'She might be one of the best players inside 15 feet in our game this year,' Antonelli said."
The Oklahoman: Analyst heaps praise on Thompson, Sooners | Notebook
"We can look back at the film and see the differences in what we did then and how we're playing now," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "It's nice to have that film, but obviously we're both different teams than we were four months ago."
The Observer: Sooner rematch
|| Thursday, March 25
12:40 p.m. -- Sooner fans, send off the OU women's basketball team Friday as it leaves for Kansas City and the Sweet 16!
The Sooners depart the Lloyd Noble Center at 4 p.m. and need your support. Fans should arrive at the southwest corner of the arena by 3:45 p.m. as the team will load its bus from the women's basketball offices.
Due to activity from the Medieval Fair at Reaves Park, vehicles will need to enter the LNC parking lots via G.T. Blankenship Drive (south side of the complex). Blankenship can be accessed from either Jenkins or Chautauqua Avenues.
Oklahoma meets Notre Dame in the Kansas City Regional Semifinal Sunday, March 28, at the Sprint Center. ESPN2HD will broadcast the game at 6:30 p.m. Central.
|| Wednesday, March 24
8:40 a.m. -- The Sooners are headed back to Kansas City for the program's eighth Sweet 16 and fourth in the last five years where they look to avenge an early season loss against Notre Dame. OU will play Sunday, March 28, at 6:34 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2HD.
John Shinn of the Norman Transcript: "Oklahoma did what it was supposed to do Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center. The third-seeded Sooners topped No. 11 seed Arkansas-Little Rock 60-44 to advance to the women's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The rest really didn't seem to matter. "A win is a win," OU forward Abi..."
How Sweet It Is, Sooners Advance - Norman Transcript
Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman: "It took a 19-point, 11-rebound performance from Abi Olajuwon for the Sooners to survive. "A win is a win," Olajuwon said. "We always strive to do our best, but at the end of the day, you've got to grind it out and get the W. "That's what we had to do tonight." What the Sooners will have to do..."
Kansas City, Here the Sooners Come - The Oklahoman
OU Women's Basketball Headlines
Defense Leads Sooners to Sweet 16 - Tulsa World
Sooners Advance to Sweet 16 - The OU Daily
Sooners Can Still Make Some Noise - Norman Transcript
OU Beats UALR to Advance to Sweet 16 - The Oklahoman
Sooners Rely on Defense to Beat UALR - Associated Press
OU Offense Struggles at Home - Tulsa World
Roethlisberger Makes Plays for OU - Norman Transcript
Notebook: KC Tickets, Stevenson, Fans - The Oklahoman
Notebook: Substitutions, Robinson, Stevenson - Tulsa World
|| Tuesday, March 23
10:35 p.m. -- Rolfe's 3 airballs short and out of bounds. UALR with the full-court press needing to foul. Stevenson to the line. Cloman to check in for Olajuwon. Stevenson make both.
Morrison in for Hartman. It's Morrison's fourth appearance in a game since joining the team in January.
UALR laying off the Sooners with a 15-point lead and a minute to play.
OU will advance to its eighth Sweet 16 appearance and meet 2-seed Notre Dame in the regional semifinal at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The OU Athletics Ticket Office will be accepting orders from women's basketball season ticket holders tomorrow from 8 a.m. until noon Central for the Division I NCAA Women's Basketball Kansas City Regional. Tickets are $48 for an All-Session pass.
To order tickets, call 405-325-2424 or 1-800-456-GoOU.
Non-season ticket holders may purchase tickets by contacting Ticketmaster at 800-745-300 or at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Sprint Center Box Office or any Ticketmaster outlet.
The Sooners will play Notre Dame at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO on Sunday, March 28. The winner will go on to play the winner of the Nebraska/Kentucky game on Tuesday, March 30. Game times are TBD.
Morrison's runner puts an exclamation point on the victory.
OU wins 60-44.
10:30 p.m. -- Williams fouls; Stevenson to the line. She makes both. Williams around Olajuwon for 2 on the left side of the paint. Williams called for the hold again. Olajuwon with the 1-and-1; makes two. Reed's jumper falls. Olajuwon captures a low pass, but is blocked on the layup, gets the board and the foul on the putback. An And 1 for Abi and OU goes up 13 with 2 minutes to play.
Reed hustling to make up the difference and pushes a shot too far. The crowd explodes as the clock strikes 2:00. Thompson called for having a foot out-of-bounds on the reception of a pass. UALR timeout.
OU leads 55-42 with 1:48 left.
10:22 p.m. -- UALR outscoring Oklahoma 20-16 this half.
Kursh gets her free throw to fall -- 10-point game. D-Rob's prayer is answered as the shot clock clicks to 1. OU in zone defense and Reed steps in for 2. Olajuwon gets the advantage on Kursh's left side again for another bucket and blocks Kursh's attempt on the other end. The pass to Roethlisberger is scoped out by Reed who steals away and fall out of bounds. Whistles bail out Reed by calling Carlee with the foul.
Butler for 2. Robinson's jumper misses. Reed's jumper contested by Hartman and off to the right. Butler fouls Stevenson, her third and the team's sixth. Official timeout.
OU leads 48-38 with 3:38 to play.
10:16 p.m. -- Butler's free throws drop. OU in and out of the paint with the passes. One finally flies errant for another turnover. McFarland called for the block.
Williams misses both free throws. OU starters back in the lineup. Olajuwon with the jumper in the lane. UALR misses. Stevenson's 3 short off the rim and hangs in the air to no avail. Sitzmann short again from 3. UALR 0 for 13 tonight from beyond the arc. Sitzmann hits a jumper. Butler struggles with a calf cramp and time is called.
Roethlisberger for Stevenson. Olajuwon blind pass to the baseline as Robinson reverses her layup. Reed screens off Roethlisberger and hits a jumper from the left wing. Olajuwon's fade away too short this time. Thompson gets her fourth foul called as Kursh drops in a layup.
OU leads 44-33 with 6:48 to play.
10:05 p.m. -- OU's layup misses. Butler streaks to the other end and makes the layup as Robinson fouls. Butler's free throw rounds the rim and drops into McFarland's arms. Sitzmann trips Robinson. Another night of hard fouls on D-Rob, but that's what the scouting report calls for. Thompson makes it a 13-point lead for OU. UALR can't get the shot to hit rim and the 30-second clock expires.
Robinson bounces off of Butler and still hits her jumper. Butler throws away the ball to Roethlisberger. McFarland contacted while off-balance and, of course, the whistle blows for another turnover. Apparently, a nice bonus for calling those in the NCAA Championship. Reed falls while escaping a trap and is clocked with a knee to the back of the head. Reed gets up favoring her right wrist as well as she goes to the bench.
Willis defending Sitzmann. Rolfe found under the basket for 2. Robinson's runner blocked from behind and forced high off the glass. Sitzmann's layup misses. Thompson uses the middle screen and the run-through by Willis to gets some space to go to the rim for 2. Thompson called for a blocking foul, her third.
OU leads 40-25 with 10:22 to play.
9:57 p.m. -- Robinson and McFarland return to the game with Lauren Willis. Roethlisberger loses the handle and fouls scrapping for the loose ball. Rolfe's 3 off target and Willis gets the board. Robinson fouled on her jumper and makes the freebies.
OU plays the trap game and Reed mishandles a pass. UALR timeout.
9:53 p.m. -- Oklahoma with a 15-point lead and has held UALR to a season opponent low for a half with just 13 points from UALR. OU's bench outscoring an opponent's for a rare time this year as the Sooner reserves have outscored the Trojans' 10-0.
OU and UALR start the second half like the first and trade turnovers, almost before any time comes off the clock. Sitzmann's 3 is way short. Reed fouls Thompson on the floor. Roethlisberger replaces Robinson, who went to the floor hard on her layup attempt. Butler with a holding foul. Stevenson's 3 misses. Reed over the top of Olajuwon for 2. Olajuwon responds, pushing Kursh out of the way on her move to the rim. Kursh gets away from Abi on the other end for a quick 2. Abi possessed now. Around Kursh and a short jumper for 2. Kursh left alone as Olajuwon helps on Rolfe and gets the layup. Stevenson's jumper just short.
UALR up 6-4 in this half, just like the first-half scoring. Trojans turn it over under the basket trying to make too many passes. Abi's fade way hits the back rim and bounces to Thompon's hands. Thompson's 3 is long, but OU gets another rebound. OU turnover.
Sitzmann's 3 off target. Reed gives up the jumper mid-air to pass to Butler who gets the layup. Williams with the foul for UALR.
OU leads 32-21 with 15:21 to play.
9:31 p.m. -- Roethlisberger lets the 3 fly and it hits its target. OU doubles up UALR, 26-13. Reed's jumper misses and McFarland takes away the rebound. Roethlisberger with the catch-and-shoot again but is left this time. Rolfe misses a 3. Robinson called for traveling. All of these traveling calls by the whistler, though most of them look legit.
UALR throws the ball to OU's cheerleaders. Stevenson with the basket cut as D-Rob goes behind the back with the ball. The pass and shot find their target as the buzzer sounds.
OU leads 28-13 into the break.
9:27 p.m. -- Boomer Sooner rains for the ceiling. Robinson scores. D-Rob with two steals already tonight and ties Caton Hill for sixth all-time on OU's career steals list at 217. Reed too long with a left-handed hook that sails over time rim to the sideline. Robinson drives and kicks out, but the pass is deflected out of bounds by UALR. Olajuwon hops on the dribble and is called for traveling.
Kursh short with the layup, but Olajuwon fouls trying to block the put back. McFarland to the check-in spot. Kursh's free throws off target so much that Abi kicks away the rebound as she checks out.
Stevenson finds McFarland open for the jumper, but UALR has athleticism and closes for the block. Stevenson slips trying to break down in the lane and is called for traveling. Sitzmann's 3 is long. Coale calls timeout with 1:42 on the clock.
OU leads 23-13.
9:21 p.m. -- Coach Thrailkill keeps it light during the timeout, coming over to the bench and criticizing my choice of wardrobe. I tie all of his ties -- he hasn't yet learned how -- so he's bold to talk that smack to me on a game night.
Robinson's jumper deflected left. Robinson slaps away Rolfe's pass and to two sprint and collide towards the sidelines as Robinson slaps it again down the court. Roethlisberger gets to the ball, but can't get the shot to fall. Reed gets a jumper. OU with another turnover on offense.
Sooners foul Butler, who makes one and misses No. 2. Robinson finds Olajuwon inside, who makes a strong move to the basket and goes over Kursh for 2. Butler passes mid-air to Sitzmann, who misses the 3. Thompson fouls on the rebound, her second personal, and Hartman replaces A.T.
Kursh misses her layup. OU called for traveling. Eleven turnovers for OU; 12 for UALR. Rolfe short with the 3 and Roethlisberger pushed by Heywood on the rebound. Olajuwon strong to the hoop again. Sooners goes up by 8.
Roethlisberger and Robinson trap Rolfe midcourt and Robinson steals the ball as Carlee goes up the court, but the pass is behind and UALR kicks it out of bounds.
OU leads 21-13 with 3:38 left in the half. A 16 to 4 points in the paint advantage for the Sooners.
9:13 p.m. -- Thompson airballs a jumper to the right. Enough UALR fans in the house to make that noticeable. Turnover by the Trojans and then Haywood fouls away from the ball on defense. Sooners need to take advantage in the chaos, but turn it over. Sitzmann left alone for 3, but is wide left with the attempt. Stevenson to the rim for 2. The half-court offense hasn't been working much for OU, but the Sooners seem to be more adept at improvisation than the Trojans. OU is shooting 54 percent to the opposition's 31 percent.
Stevenson's 3 off right. Butler fights away the rebound. Timeout UALR.
Sooners trap Rolfe, but Butler finds the awry pass. OU doubling the ball handler and gets UALR to turn it over. Official timeout.
OU leads 17-10 with 7:30 to play in the period. Sooners pulling away with each minute, but not enough just yet to cause concern for UALR.
9:07 p.m. -- Hartman returns for Roethlisberger. Ball stolen from McFarland by Rolfe. I don't think Joanna ever same the 5-4 Rolfe in her line of vision. Kursh with the offense foul. Thompson's jumper short. Reed's jumper long and Hartman runs away with the ball. Stevenson makes a baseline floater fall for OU. Rolfe being a ball hawk, eyeing the ball more than the player dribbling it. Her small stature allows her to be sneakier than other players.
Reed passes through two in traffic to Kursh for the layup. McFarland fouled on her shot; drains her first and misses her second short. UALR looking for only two players to shoot the ball -- Reed and Sitzmann -- and get in trouble doing so, with a double-dribble. Timeout UALR.
OU leads 15-10 with 9:33 to play in the first period.
9:02 p.m. -- Quick strike for Roethlisberger assisted by Thompson and UALR misses. Robinson with a turnover off the dribble. Kursh does the same on the other end. High pass to Thompson and is too off-balance to take a shot. Defense comes to take the opportunity away. Sitzmann misses the 3. Pass inside to Olajuwon is mishandled. Thompson called for a blocking foul. Reed to the line, makes two.
Pass by Robinson over the smaller Rolfe to Roethlisberger for an easy layup. Rolfe throws away the ball on the next possession. McFarland replaces Olajuwon.
Roethlisberger's pass too tall for McFarland. Reed has nowhere to pass. Sitzmann hits the underside of the rim on her layup attempt. Sooners and Trojans tie up on OU's possession.
McFarland tangled up with Kursh as the pass comes and its stolen by Rolfe. 3-second call on UALR. Media timeout.
OU leads 12-8 with 11:53 to play in the first. With an obvious size advantage, Sooners lead points in the paint, 10-2.
Reed has six of UALR's eight points, but has been held in check by Roethlisberger the last four minutes.
8:52 p.m. -- Good movement of the ball, but a turnover on the first possession for the Sooners. Hartman nearly steals a pass to the center, but UALR recovers. Shot clock at 3 and the Trojans throw it away. Thompson straight to the bucket for the layup in transition.
UALR pass through the middle and Reed hits the jumper. Olajuwon with a turnaround fade away for 2. Reed with another jumper. Robinson loses the handle in the paint. Quick offenses.
Reed into the paint with a contested 8-footer and UALR grabs the lead. Olajuwon called for traveling to OU's displeasure. Reed throws it up off the glass and Olajuwon grabs the board. Thompson jumper misses but UALR turns it over. Robinson speeds into the lane and is fouled by Rolfe on the shot that rolls in and out. Robinson makes two free throws to tie the game. Roethlisberger checks in for Hartman.
Butler loses the ball into OU's radio broadcast, but the officials say the Sooners deflected. Sitzmann with a 3 that gets stuck behind the rim. UALR keeps po session. Reed hard with a jumper and the ball goes out of bounds. Roethlisberger around Rolfe and to the rim for 2. Sitzmann loses a baseline pass in traffic. OU ball.
Sooners lead 8-6 at the first media timeout, 15:40.
8:42 p.m. -- Starting lineups. Amanda Thompson has the most serious look I've ever seen. Expect a monster game from her tonight.
8:40 p.m. -- Sherri Coale gets raucous applause from those in attendance as she step on to the LNC court. It's not a sellout, but the fans here are louder than usual already.
8:31 p.m. -- Less than 15 minutes away from starting and the National Anthem has just played. Both teams look relatively calm and focused on the task at hand. The chant of Boomer Sooner ignites. Here's tonight's lineups and officials:
Oklahoma: 1 Nyeshia Stevenson F, 13 Danielle Robinson G, 21 Amanda Thompson F, 34 Abi Olajuwon C, 45 Jasmine Hartman G.
UALR: 3 Asriel Wolfe G, 10 Shanika Butler G, 20 Chastity Reed F, 31 Britteni Williams F, 35 Kim Sitzmann G.
Officials: Lisa Mattingly, Scott Yarbrough and Scotty Hermann.
8:13 p.m. -- Looks like 2-seed Notre Dame has handled a fight from 11-seed Vermont and will meet the winner of tonight's game in the regional semifinal.
7:40 p.m. -- We're just over an hour away from tip-off at the Lloyd Noble Center. A berth into the Sweet 16 is on the line as 11-seed UALR and 3-seed Oklahoma meet tonight. The Sooners are already out on the court stretching and Danielle Robinson and Nyeshia Stevenson have identical hairdos tonight -- maybe we'll see identical 3-point shooting?
3:25 p.m. -- Congratulations to Danielle Robinson, who was just named one of 12 finalists for the State Farm Wade Trophy, given to a member of the State Farm All-America Team and the national player of the year!
Oklahoma has finished its shootaround and only has a pre-game meal remaining on the schedule before they return to the Lloyd Noble Center for tonight's game against UALR for a chance at the Sweet 16 in Kansas City.
12:43 p.m. -- About an hour away from OU's shootaround -- the team's final preparation before tonight's game versus UALR. The Sooners and Trojans have met three times previously -- the last in December 2000 -- with Oklahoma taking the 'W' every time with an average margin of victory of 34 points.
Remember, ESPN2 HD will have rotating coverage and only the standard definition ESPN2 will air the local game in its entirety. Additionally, these service providers will air UALR vs. Oklahoma on these channels:
DirecTV - 723 | DISH Network - 148 | AT&T U-Verse - 617
8:48 a.m. -- It's game day. OU and UALR hit the court at 8:30 p.m. tonight. Here's the morning scoop:
"I think if there's an advantage there, it might be the post play in terms of Abi and Jo(anna McFarland), establishing themselves," OU coach Sherri Coale said. "As Abi said, it's so different from what we see in the Big 12. I think, for her, she's really excited to not face a Brittney Griner, a Kelsey Griffin, a Cory Montgomery."
Norman Transcript: Post Advantage
Robinson, as always, was the key for Oklahoma. She got to the bucket on drives, caused havoc with her defense out front and found open shooters. In other words, it was her typical game. "She's a phenomenal player," said South Dakota State's Kristin Rotert. "It seems like she is everywhere on the court. You will make a pass and she's six feet away from the player and the next thing you know she is right there."
Tulsa World: Speedy OU is Paced by Robinson
"To take that next step, you have to win games - you just can't just be close, you can't just talk about a good second half," said SDSU coach Aaron Johnston, whose program has played in the Division I postseason four straight years. "I don't think we're that far away from winning another game or two and making it really interesting."
Argus Leader: Season Over, Jacks Look for Ways to Close the Gap
"We need them to come out," Sooner center Abi Olajuwon said. "It's not a want. It's a necessity. We feed off that support. Sometimes, you don't feel like you can go another step, and you hear that crowd and you're like, `Whoa, I guess I do have some energy.'"
The Oklahoman: Coale calls out Sooner fans
"That was the challenge I accepted and I wanted because I thought Little Rock could be a special city because you don't have all the pro teams and things to compete with," Foley said Monday. "Arkansas is kind of like Oklahoma. You put a winner out there, everybody loves a winner. I thought that it was a city that if you start putting a winner on the floor consistently, they will get behind it, just like I think they will and have started to do. That was the vision I saw and wanted to be a part of."
Associated Press: UALR, Once-Shelved Program, in NCAA 2nd Round
"Although she didn't show up on the stat sheet as much as teammates Danielle Robinson, Nyeshia Stevenson or Amanda Thompson Sunday night, OU post Joanna McFarland had a serious impact on the Sooners' NCAA-opening victory over South Dakota State."
Tulsa World: Hidden Meaning
|| Monday, March 22
4:45 p.m. -- Catch up with sophomore guard Jasmine Hartman on KREF as she interviews with James Hale at 5:05 p.m. this afternoon.
4:32 p.m. -- Oklahoma put the wraps on its Monday practice after about an hour and 15 minutes inside the Lloyd Noble Center. Earlier this afternoon, Sherri Coale, Abi Olajuwon and Nyeshia Stevenson took part in the news conference. Stevenson talked about growing up across the street from the UALR campus and her relationship with the Trojans' star from Sunday night, Kim Sitzmann. Olajuwon added a great quote about what its like for the players on the court when their home fans come out and support them.
Here's the transcript, plus some bonus footage from the locker room, including how the team spends the time awaiting the open period for media to end.
News Conference Quotes : Oklahoma | UALR
Locker Room Video: Amanda Thompson | Danielle Robinson | Nyeshia Stevenson | Passing the Time
12:47 p.m. -- UALR head coach Joe Foley and his players just finished their obligations with the media and now head out to the Lloyd Noble Center court for their 1 1/2 hour practice. Oklahoma has its news conference at 2 p.m. and follows that with a practice.
6:39 a.m. -- Good morning, Sooner fans. The OU family is taking over KREF Sportstalk 1400 AM this morning as Sherri Coale will join Toby Rowland as a co-host at 7:30 a.m.
The day isn't finished, though, as the Sooners return to the Lloyd Noble Center this afternoon for a 2 p.m. news conference followed by a two-hour practice as the team prepares for its second round game against UALR Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
|| Sunday, March 21
11:36 p.m. -- Need tickets for Tuesday's second round game between Oklahoma and UALR. They're available. For those who need a single-game ticket, they can be purchased online at SoonerSports.com or by calling the OU Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-456-GoOU. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for youths (ages 2-18) and OU students who present a valid ID.
Listen to Sherri Coale and many members of the OU Athletics family as the Sooners take over KREF Sportstalk 1400 AM in Norman Tuesday morning between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m.
10:36 p.m. -- Oklahoma will meet UALR on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. after defeating South Dakota State 68-57 behind 17 points from Nyeshia Stevenson and another double-double from Amanda Thompson.
10:34 p.m. -- Last chance for SDSU on the OU inbounds. Sooners get it to Thompson, who's fouled with 10.4. Still not in the bonus.
Inbounds to McFarland. Foul. Finally in the bonus. McFarland to the line with 8.9 seconds with the 1-and-1. Good for two.
Michelson loses the handle at halfcourt and Stevenson gets the loose ball. Michelson fouls out and Stevenson goes to the line with 2.2 seconds on the clock.
OU wins 68-57.
10:31 p.m. -- Crowd getting into the action as loud as 5,368 fans can. Apparently it works, as SDSU loses the handle. The two teams trade buckets.
Hartman's 3 is short and SDSU wins the fight for the rebound as the clock goes under 2:00. Stevenson fouls Michelson beyond the 3-point line, but the coaches are okay with that as they are not in the bonus.
Boever to hard with a layup and Thompson gets the board. Coale with her hands up, slowing Robinson at the halfcourt. One minute.
OU gets pressed and Coale calls timeout just before the ball is tied up.
Stevenson with the inbounds. Robinson forces a shot with the clock expiring and misses. Sticky defense by OU. OU gets the rebound and Robinson is fouled with 12.2 to play.
10:26 p.m. -- Oklahoma slowing the pace with a double-digit lead in hand, but SDSU not falling for the bait and keeps the offense going on the other end. Four quick points and a turnover on OU's end puts the Jackrabbits within 7 with under 3 1/2 minutes to play.
OU leads 62-55 with 3:20 to play.
10:13 p.m. -- A trade of baskets and Johnston calls time to set up a trap defense. OU not expecting it, but able to handle the pressure. SDSU moves into a 2-3 zone and holds off a basket cut by Robinson as the shot clock gets near zero. Sunnaborg hits a 3 to close OU's lead under double digits for the first time since the first half.
Olajuwon fouled on the other end and makes both. SDSU runs a high screen and Michelson sheds Robinson for a jumper.
SDSU tries to trap Stevenson again, but she eludes it, passes to Thompson, who find McFarland in traffic for a short, contested jumper.
OU leads 60-49, 7:54 remaining.
10:04 p.m. -- Sooners return to the court small, with Roethlisberger in for Olajuwon. SDSU immediately takes advantage running the inbounds underneath for a layup. Coale send Olajuwon to the substitution table, probably intended to the entire time and gave her just another minute of rest and a look at the action on the floor.
No team getting shots to fall that interval as the Jacks take a 6-2 run.
OU leads 54-42 with 11:52 remaining.
9:46 p.m. -- Olajuwon and Thompson with some great defensive plays countering the SDSU's 3-point attack. Stevenson hot from the field, but tiring. Coale calls a timeout -- the first of the half automatically become a full -- to give her a break.
OU leads 52-38 with 13:42 left in the game.
9:29 p.m. -- SDSU still running quick-score plays and not functioning well against the Sooner defense, not establishing any rhythm. OU misses a shot and then turns it over on consecutive possessions and the Jacks capitalize with a 2 and a 3 to make it a 10-point game.
OU wakes up and gets back into a fierce defense, causing an SDSU pass to be deflected to Sherri Coale.
Lauren Willis subs for Stevenson, who has two fouls and doesn't need a third in the final 47 seconds. Abi makes her free throws -- as she has been with great precision since the start of the postseason -- and OU leads 44-31 with two possessions worth of time on the board.
SDSU gets the last look at a play, but Thompson stuffs the long 2 with 4.4 on the clock.
OU leads 44-31 at the half.
9:19 p.m. -- Stevenson gets tagged with a 50-50 blocking foul. As the free throws are shot, the OU band sings 'Happy Birthday' to Stevenson, who can just laugh about it.
Robinson with All-America point guard numbers -- five assists, four steals and just one turnover -- with four minutes left in the half.
Stevenson gives us a birthday present by making her third 3 to put OU up 41-26 as Aaron Johnston calls timeout on the SDSU bench.
OU leads 41-26 with 3:43 to play at the final media timeout of the first half.
9:15 p.m. -- Robinson with her third steal and sixth fast-break point right out of the timeout. Speed a complete advantage for OU. South Dakota State isn't getting into position as they receive passes and the Sooners close the gaps too easily for any freebies to get up.
Still, the Jackrabbits hitting enough 3s to keep the game interesting despite the fact OU is shooting 57 percent and SDSU 38 percent.
9:08 p.m. -- I told Nyeshia that she averaged two 3-point misses before making her first in games this season, but was 50 percent after that. No such average play tonight. Stevenson made her first 3-point attempt and is 2-for-4 from beyond the arc and 4-of-6 from the field with 10 points already. SDSU firing away 3s as well in hopes of maintaining at least some close play. The Jackrabbits are 4-of-8 from 3-point range and 7-of-19 overall as OU leads 30-20.
9:02 p.m. -- Turnovers on three of last five possessions and a bunch of missed field goals for SDSU and great offensive patience by Oklahoma has the Sooners up 21-13 with 10:45 left. Jackrabbits forcing a number of shots as well.
OU leads 21-13 with 10:45 to play in the first half.
8:52 p.m. -- Somewhat of a mismatch with Olajuwon guarding Boever, a post player who can shoot the 3. Boever is 2-for-2 beyond the arc early and Coale sends in McFarland to do some work and get Abi a perspective from the bench. Robinson's athleticism too much for Schuttloffel, who can't get room for a shot, much less get up and down the court without a lot of harassment.
Thompson muscles on the offensive glass and gets her own miss twice for the third-chance points to put OU up one at the media timeout.
Oklahoma 12, South Dakota State 11. 15:40 on the clock.
8:44 p.m. -- Game on.
8:25 p.m. -- Remember, ESPN2 HD has rotating coverage and will broadcast only its top game. The ESPN2 standard definition channel will broadcast local market games. Also, these channels will air the full broadcast of Oklahoma/SDSU:
DirecTV - 722 | DISH - 147 | AT&T U-Verse - 616
8:20 p.m. -- We're 20 minutes away from tip-off between South Dakota State and Oklahoma. The Sooners will start Danielle Robinson, Jasmine Hartman, Nyeshia Stevenson, Amanda Thompson and Abi Olajuwon. SDSU will begin with Kitty Cornemann, Maria Boever, Jennifer Schuttlofell, Macie Michelson and Kristin Rotert.
8:11 p.m. -- There won't be an Oklahoma-Georgia Tech matchup in the second round for a second straight year as UALR provides an early upset in the first round of the NCAA Championship, taking down the sixth-seeded Yellow Jackets, 63-53, Sunday evening in Norman. OU will need to avoid upset chances of its own against a red-hot South Dakota State team that has won 11 of its last 12 games.
6:13 p.m. -- Game 1 between UALR and Georgia Tech is underway. Fans, there's still time to get to the Lloyd Noble Center and experience March Madness.
3:34 p.m. -- Scouring today's headlines. Here's the scoop:
"The past couple years, we always had the target on our back. Everybody expected us to win, win and win. This year, there was a different approach to it," Thompson said "I felt like we had something to prove. When you go out there to prove something, to prove somebody wrong, that's fun to me."
Tulsa World: Resilient Sooners Embrace Changes
"That's a lot of star power for one program. South Dakota State will step into the Sooners' spotlight when the teams meet in the first round of the NCAA tournament tonight at Lloyd Noble Center."
Argus Leader: Sooners Pack Star Power
"This is my third year in the program, and I have never stepped on the floor and felt we didn't have the ability to beat the other team," SDSU junior Kristin Rotert said. "I think that's something our coaches give us - they give us confidence. We might be the underdog on paper and in people's opinion, but we really believe we're good enough to compete with any team out here."
Argus Leader: Jacks Aiming for Upset
"As it turned out, things worked out just right. SDSU went to the WNIT in back-to-back seasons prior to last season, going 25-6 and 23-7 those campaigns. Last season, the Jacks' first year of NCAA tourney eligibility, they earned a spot, spanked TCU 90-55 in the first round and finished a bucket short of Baylor, 60-58, to just miss reaching the Sweet 16."
Norman Transcript: Jacks Have a History
"Abi Olajuwon went to the Olympics and the NBA Finals, spent time around Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone, and traveled to Africa and Europe. And she did it all before finishing elementary school."
The Oklahoman: Sitting, Waiting Pays Off | Notebook
"The first game after you lose a kid to injury is always telling," Coale said. "Sometimes, you play desperately and you play better than you actually are. Sometimes, you play panic-stricken, frozen, terrified of what comes next. Then occasionally, when your kids are made of something special, you play. And we played."
The Oklahoman: Sooners Could Get Rematch with Notre Dame
"She put herself in a situation to be able to take advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself,'' Coale said. "A lot of guys don't do that. A lot of kids come in and think they're supposed to play immediately. If they don't get to play immediately, that's it. They're just satisfied with where they are. She has never been satisfied.''
Associated Press: Olajuwon Making Her Own Name at Oklahoma
"Yet over the season's last 16 games, beginning Jan. 23 against Kansas, the averages are 4.9 assists and 2.9 turnovers. Averaging a half-assist less the second half of the season can be chalked up to playing nothing but conference opponents. The significant reduction in turnovers can be chalked up to Robinson raising her game."
Norman Transcript: To The Point
"I'm surprised," Goodman said. "This is a year when pretty much across the board a lot of our sports are having a difficult time. Attendance is down pretty much across the country, not just OU. And our attendance is down. But virtually everything from the bus trips to the Clinton Lounge to our lunches to our events, we have shown an increase in everything we are doing."
Norman Transcript: Fast Break Club Steps Up for Sooners
"They have a lot of size and athleticism inside. On the perimeter they have a lot of quickness. The point guard [Robinson] will certainly be one of the best we have played against and we have played against some good ones ... They have such a strong tradition and the fans here know what it's like to win and move on, so there are some obstacles in front of us."
Norman Transcript: Reason for Confidence
2:31 p.m. -- We're less than four hours away from tipping off with the first game tonight. The last of the logos are being placed on the court and ESPN is running through its final checks as they prepare for broadcast.
With the little downtime that remains before the action starts, I've been reading Caton Hill's blog from her tour as an Army flight surgeon. I would suggest you take a look at it, too: CaptainYodaMD.com.
12:56 p.m. -- Oklahoma has finished its shootaround on the main court at the Lloyd Noble Center. It's beginning to feel like a tournament here as all the NCAA banners are in place and Vitamin Water cups are stacked on each end of the benches.
Today is Nyeshia Stevenson's birthday and the team sang its property rights-free rendition of the song following the workout.
11:41 a.m. -- This is Oklahoma's 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship, the longest such streak among Big 12 teams (Baylor is second with seven straight appearances), in Sherri Coale's 14th year as the head coach of Oklahoma. Coale came to OU direct from the high school ranks after building Norman High School into one of the nation's premier prep programs. In fact, Coale is one of only three head coaches that jumped directly from high school to Division I and have a team in the NCAA Championship this year. The other two are Brian Giorgis, who's Marist team lost to Georgetown Saturday, and Rick Insell of Middle Tennessee.
10:32 a.m. -- Gameday is here. Georgia Tech is currently holding its shootaround on the Lloyd Noble Center court. UALR is next as the Yellow Jackets and Trojans meet in game 1 tonight at 6:16 p.m. The Sooners will be in at noon in preparation for their matchup with South Dakota State later tonight.
Television coverage tonight will be on ESPN2, but it will matter which ESPN2 channel you select. Those watching ESPN2's HD channel will see whip-around coverage from all games in progress while ESPN2 standard definition viewers will see their local protected market game.
Additionally, the first and second round from Norman will be on these channels for digital subscribers: DirecTV - 722; DISH - 147; AT&T U-Verse - 616.
|| Saturday, March 20
4:04 p.m. -- Saturday is complete. The Sooners finished a spirited one hour practice in front of a few dozen fans who braved the elements to watch inside the Lloyd Noble Center. ESPN's announcers for the game, Dan McLaughlin and Fran Fraschilla, were also in attendance to get prepared for Sunday's games.
The team will join together tonight for dinner before returning to their own beds in a rare instance during an NCAA Championship weekend. The games in Norman begin Sunday with Georgia Tech/UALR at 6:16 p.m. and Oklahoma/South Dakota State following at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Photo Gallery | Robinson | Thompson | Stevenson Willis | Cloman | McFarland | Olajuwon
"We're very excited to get the tournament underway and we're very excited to host the first and second rounds here on our gym floor," OU head coach Sherri Coale said. "I feel like down the stretch of the season, particularly even with our won/lost record right down the stretch of the last three weeks, it would not be considered fantastic. I think we've slowly but surely been making an improvement. I think that's the key; to not be satisfied where you are the first of February, but to keep getting better and better. I think we have been improving even throughout the Big 12 tournament. I was just really pleased with the way these kids respond."
Oklahoma's players were excited about the home site advantage that having the first and second rounds in Norman brings, but still wary of their opponents.
"I just feel like it's another home game and another opportunity to play in front of our fans again and another opportunity to make it a special night," senior forward Amanda Thompson said. "I think it's a good advantage, but we still can't relax just because we're at home and get to sleep in our own beds. We just need to take advantage of it and play like we've always played.
"You can't overlook South Dakota State. They are a great team, and after watching film, I just see that they like to score. We have to buckle up and hold tight and not take them for granted and play our game. I think we'll be fine."
"Our success is going to depend a lot on transition and how quickly we move the ball," junior guard Danielle Robinson said. "We have to use our athleticism to our ability and that's what's going to be huge for us, the way we execute our transitions. The whole rhythm thing, you just can't get sped up, and I think we've done a great job of that in the second half of the season."
News Conference Transcripts: Georgia Tech | UALR | Oklahoma | South Dakota State
1:54 p.m. -- Oklahoma has finished its news conference and is about to take the court for its one-hour open practice at the Lloyd Noble Center. We'll have some video interviews from the locker room up soon.
11:33 a.m. -- After a double dose of operations meetings this morning, events are underway at the Lloyd Noble Center. Georgia Tech is currently in their news conference with a practice to follow at noon. The practice is open to the public and admission is free.
9:00 a.m. -- The first official day of activity for the NCAA Women's Basketball First and Second Rounds in Norman begins today. Each team will hold a press conference before practicing on the Lloyd Noble Center court. Practices today are open to the public and free admission (must enter through east doors).
Georgia Tech begins the day with a 11:20 a.m. news conference followed by its practice at 12 p.m. The Yellow Jackets' game one opponent, UALR, follows with the Oklahoma Sooners taking to the court at 2:10 p.m. for one hour, followed by South Dakota State.