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Old 12-16-2019, 07:03 AM   #1
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Default Sooner women handle success, dominate SHSU

By Tyler Palmateer
Transcript Sports Editor

Maintaining momentum was one of the Oklahoma women’s biggest difficulties a year ago. Back then, big victories were hard to come by and even harder to replicate.

A little more than a week ago, the Sooners upset then-No. 25 LSU.

Instead of an emotional letdown Sunday, they easily handled Sam Houston State at Lloyd Noble Center.

Taylor Robertson scored 21 points, Ana Llanusa added 19 and OU faced little resistance in a 95-71 victory over the Bearkats.

“I think that’s one thing … the LSU win was great.

But we’re not satisfied with that,” said junior forward Mandy Simpson, who scored four points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Sooners.

“Every single game is the game we’re focused on that day.

“I think the level of maturity has increased this year for sure. We’re just more focused and we know what we have to do and we have a lot of our young guys stepping up to the plate.”

Simpson would know.

She and Llanusa are the team’s most experienced players and the ones who are most often aware of its pulse.

Consistency has shown up in practice, OU coach Sherri Coale said. She believes the Sooners, who are 6-4 with two nonconference games left, have become a good good practice team.

In the past, gains could be lost week to week or day to day.

“We figured out how to reset ourselves in practice. The next stage is, can you reset in the game?” Coale said. “And there was a time and in the first half tonight, maybe the end of the first quarter, where it had gotten a little bit sloppy.

“We lost the lead for a second and we reset and went right back to the way we knew we wanted to play at the beginning. So that’s a development for this team, that amount of reset time is getting less and less.”

OU got out to a 10-2 lead as Sam Houston State missed six of its first seven shots. But the Bearkats stabilized, staying within 21-18 after one quarter when Kiera McKinney hit a jumper at the buzzer.

Sam Houston State (4-4) hit 5 of 6 to end the period. With OU on a shooting drought, Faith Cook swished a 3 with 7:45 left in the second quarter to give the Bearkats a 23-21 lead.

The Sooners took authority of the game from there.

Llanusa was the driving force behind a 25-6 run to close the half, putting the Sooners up 46-29 at the break. She scored seven points in that span, including six points and one of her three assists in a streak of three possessions that pushed OU’s lead back up to double figures.

Llanusa rolled in two easy shots and fed Madi Williams for another, before cutting to the basket for a layup that put the Sooners up 33-23 with 3:51 until halftime.

The lead was a full 20 points by the time Gabby Gregory converted a traditional three-point play on the second half’s first possession, and it was a 24-point advantage midway through the third. Sam Houston State was just 1 of 7 from the 3-point line by that time.

The Sooners shot 7 of 14 behind the 3-point line. Robertson (4 of 7) and Llanusa (2 of 3) were a combined 6 of 10. OU extended the lead enough to play all 11 players on the roster. Jessi Murcer made the most of that time, scoring nine points off 3-of-5 shooting.

The Sooners will need her more now after the recent departure of Kamryn Lemon, which Coale confirmed after the game. Tatum Veitenheimer scored six points and dished six assists at point guard.

“Just to play to be out there when the lights are on and go against an opponent. Everybody needs that,” Coale said. “And it’s going to take everybody on our roster throughout conference play to do what we want to do. So the more minutes we can get them regardless of situation, the better for everybody.”
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