Sooners Show Heart But Come Up Short

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners are accustomed to this kind of matchup.

The nation's No. 2 ranked team coming to town.

A big time game.

National television.

And although they fell 73-55 in the end to the Connecticut Huskies, they were resilient in a very respectful defeat.

"I was very proud of our kids," said head coach Sherri Coale. "If there is a tougher player in America than Whitney Hand, then I don't know who it is. I wouldn't trade her for anyone in the country. I had three freshmen that I thought just grew up like crazy tonight. I look out there and we have three freshmen on the floor. The ball goes from DaShawn [Harden] to Kay Kay [Williams] to Sharane [Campbell] and we are going toe-to-toe with Connecticut.

"I am really, really proud of those young guys. But I am not satisfied. It's never OK, never OK, to lose on your home floor. But, I am proud of the growth that I saw. We found some passion and we found some fighters."

The Sooners found themselves already down 21-4 after the second media timeout but responded with an 11-0 run in the next 2:58 to draw back within six points.

Hand said the other day she wanted her team to get "lost in the game."

That right there was an example of exactly that taking place.

"I did, I really did [feel like that happened]," Hand said. "When we were down 21-4, I was just thinking, ‘Not again. Like uh.' That's the last thing you want, you know? And I thought I personally got lost. I thought DaShawn, Sharane, Kay Kay, Jelena [Cerina], I mean, you can just go down the list, and I just really felt like there were times on the court when it was fun and you didn't even look at the scoreboard and that was kind of our goal."

OU even drew back within five after that point when it was 33-28 late in the first half.

A bucket and two free throws put UConn up 37-28 at intermission.

The Sooners never got closer again, trailing by as much as 19 in the second half, but continued to bring it despite that, twice chipping to lead back to nine.

For the most part, though, if you take away the first four minutes of the game, as Coale said in her postgame press conference, it was a battle back and forth.

UConn threw a punch, but OU responded.

UConn threw another punch, and OU responded again to keep the game from getting really ugly.

"I thought we did really good things and had good shots, but we just didn't make them," Coale said. "When you are playing a top-five team in the country, you have got to knock down shots. We had some threes, we had open jump shots and we missed some on the block. You can't do that against a team as volatile Connecticut."

Starting the game 13 percent from the field from tipoff to the first media timeout, while UConn was 83 percent, certainly didn't help.

They finished just 34.5 percent, and the Huskies didn't shoot it all that well, but still finished better at 39.4 percent.

Hand led all Sooners with 18 points, while Campbell added 11.

Four Huskies finished in double figures, including guards Tiffany Hayes, Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who had 23, 20 and 10, respectively, and center Stefanie Dolson, who provided 10.

The game featured one tie and no lead changes, as UConn led it wire to wire.

The Huskies also narrowly out-rebounded OU 40-39.

OU (16-7, 8-4 Big 12) now looks forward to playing its third game in five nights when it hosts Kansas State at 7 p.m. Wednesday inside Lloyd Noble Center.

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