Seniors Anchor Bedlam Victory

NORMAN, Okla. -- After four long years, three Sooner seniors finally got their sendoff on Senior Night, and it was a victorious one, as OU took care of business against Bedlam rival Oklahoma State in an 81-66 triumph Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center.

"I'm happy with our leadership tonight, especially the fact that Lauren Willis got in and hit the deep three of the night and did a great job of what she does which is get up shoot threes and make them," said OU head coach Sherri Coale. "I thought Carlee [Roethlisberger] got us started early, and Danielle [Robinson] really controlled the tempo of the game. Just a really great night for all three of the seniors."

Indeed, Roethlisberger, Robinson and Willis each played their final game in the home cream uniforms at LNC, and they did not disappoint.

Roethlisberger managed 14 points, Robinson added 13 and Willis hit a pair of threes to score six.

Their leadership, poise and production on the court was a big reason the Sooners seized the lead from the beginning and rarely trailed after that.

"Those are the kind of players we have here who plays along throughout their careers where they're at their best in the final weeks of their senior season," Coale said. "Really proud of these guys tonight, and [I'm] really glad to see Whitney Hand making threes tonight, even though she's not a senior."

Hand was one of four Sooners in double figures, but it was freshman guard Aaryn Ellenberg that led the way for OU, hitting 5-of-10 from behind the arc for 23 points.

That anchored a start that saw OU trail just once at the 10:10 mark and eventually build an eight-point lead later in the half.

The Sooners would lead by six at intermission with a 36-30 advantage.

Immediately in the second half, it got much worse.

Within the first 2:07 of the final 20 minutes, OU led by double digits.

That was in midst of a stretch where OU turned on the jets, using a 19-2 spurt out of the gates to go up 49-32, boosted by an electric 3-point performance, where they converted 14-of-28 in the contest.

"We're really proud of our guards and the way we ran to the corners in transition," Coale said. "I thought their zone affected the tempo in the first half, and we didn't allow it to in the second half."

The Sooners never looked back, leading by as much as 26 with 7:31 remaining.

Only a pair of Cowgirls score in double figures, but forward Toni Young led all scorers with her 31.

Center Vicky McIntyre had 10.

OU, who moves to 20-9 overall and 10-5 in the Big 12 Conference, has clinched the three-seed with the win.

"That's a huge accomplishment and as coaches we sometimes look at it and say if one ball had just rolled in we would have been tied for first," Coale said. "But I think our kids have really battled valiantly. I'm proud of them. I'm proud of their resilience. I'm proud of the fact that we're continuing to get better."

OU now hits the road for their final game of the regular season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 2 p.m. Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

"We've got to go to Lubbock this weekend and take care of that one and then head to Kansas City and see if we can just shake things up there," Coale said.

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