Jayhawks Spoil OU's Senior Day

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners had a chance to secure the No. 2 seed in next week's Big 12 Tournament with a victory; instead, they'll have to settle for a draw for that spot after losing 83-77 to the Kansas Jayhawks Sunday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.

"Yeah, I thought Kansas played incredibly inspired and we didn't," said head coach Sherri Coale. "We were as flat as could be. We knew what was on the line. We knew what was at stake and I can't explain it. I wish I could."

The Jayhawks took the early lead, built on it after OU briefly came back in the second half, and kept it down the stretch as OU moved into the hack-a-Shaq game.

With 2:01 remaining and the Sooners trailing 66-57, Coale ordered her troops to foul and foul every possession.

In the meantime, they were forced with the tough task of scoring every possession on the offensive end.

They did a good job of that and cut it to six, but Kansas was just too sharp at the foul line.

The Jayhawks knocked down 17-of-20 at the stripe in that final stretch in order to stave off the Sooner rally.

"Obviously they made a lot of free throws down the stretch as we were trying to foul and get back into it," Coale said. "But up until that point, we had plenty of opportunities."

OU, who was sluggish most of the way, stayed in it in large part because of guard Aaryn Ellenberg's 27-point performance.

She managed that mark by 11-for-25 shooting, while guards Morgan Hook and Whitney Hand also finished in double figures, scoring 17 and 13, respectively.

But the Jayhawks had a trio of double digit scorers as well, with forward Aishah Sutherland netting 23 and guards Natalie Knight and Angel Goodrich adding 18 and 12, respectively.

And they had the energy most of the way, an energy OU quite honestly just didn't have.

"We just didn't play inspired, bottom line," Coale said. "We didn't get 50-50 balls. We didn't cover for each other on defense. We didn't crash the offensive boards. We got blocked out. They were physical, and we were done with it. They wanted it worse than we did, simple."

Hook, like Coale, said it was inexplicable.

"It's a choice that we have to make," Hook said. "I mean, before the game in the locker room, everyone seemed--we were all like up and everything like that. So, we thought we were going to come out with great energy and then we came out and got down 10-3 in that first interval and never really fully bounced back."

Indeed, Kansas took the early 2-0 lead and led it 11-3 just three minutes in.

OU closed to within one at halftime and actually got up by three when it was 34-31 early in the second half.

From that point, the Jayhawks used a 20-7 spurt to expand a 10-point lead.

It was an uphill battle from then on, one OU just couldn't win.

Now for the Sooners (19-11, 11-7), it's back to the drawing board.

"I don't know [what's going to be addressed]," Coale said. "I'll figure it out before tomorrow."

They'll have three full days to prepare before opening play in Kansas City, Mo., on the second day of the tournament.

GAME NOTES:

Oklahoma:
--With losses Sunday, Texas A&M and Oklahoma tied for second in the Big 12 Standings and were even through four tiebreakers for seeding. The Big 12 Conference determined the seeding for No. 2 and No. 3 by draw, its fifth tiebreaker, and OU won it to get the second seed. It'll play the winner of the play-in game between No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Missouri.
--Sooners Aaryn Ellenberg and Whitney Hand were honored in pregame for scoring 1,000 career points. Hand passed 1,000 points Feb. 21 versus Texas A&M and Ellenberg reached the mark Feb. 29 at Texas Tech. It was just the fourth time multiple Sooners have reached the milestone in the same season.
--Sunday's contest marked the final regular season home game for Oklahoma senior Jelena Cerina, who started and scored OU's first two points. The Sooners will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
--Oklahoma finished the regular season tied for second in the Big 12 Standings. The Sooners were picked fourth in the Preseason Big 12 Coaches' Poll. It is the seventh consecutive season and 12th of the 16 total that the Sooners have finished at or above their preseason rank. (There was no poll in the league's first year, 1996-97).

Aaryn Ellenberg:
--Ellenberg is No. 4 all-time at Oklahoma with 162 career 3-pointers made, trailing No. 3 Nyeshia Stevenson (2007-10) by five.
--Ellenberg scored a game-high 27 points. She matched a season high with 11 field goals and a career high with 25 attempts.
--She matched her season high FG, career high FGA.

Whitney Hand:
--Hand totaled 13 points and 12 rebounds for her second straight double-double and fourth this season.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories