Sooners get back on track, top Texas 69-56

NORMAN, Okla. — Guard Aaryn Ellenberg dropped 22 points and helped the Sooners return to their winning ways, as they knocked off their arch-rival Texas Longhorns 69-56 Saturday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.

And for the fifth time this season, the Sooners did it wire to wire, giving head coach Sherri Coale her fifth birthday victory in five all-time tries, including a perfect 3-0 against Texas.

"No, I wasn't [aware]," Coale said. "Thank you for that factoid...Do you have any idea how old I am? I don't need any more games and any more birthdays. One a year is plenty."

On this birthday, they scored the game's opening six points and really dictated most everything from that point on, outside of a first half Texas run fueled by guard Chassidy Fussell.

With nine points in a short span, she trimmed an early 10-point Sooner advantage to just one at 16-15.

From there, though, OU got busy, in the paint and beyond the arc.

Ellenberg rattled off the Sooners' next 10 points in building that margin back out to double digits.

"I mean, it's fine with me," Ellenberg said of taking on the role when things get tight. "It doesn't really matter who does it, but, I mean, if I have an open look or I'm feeling good, I'm definitely going to take that shot. I'm not afraid to. So, I mean, that's just the way it panned out."

They carried a six-point lead into halftime when it was 33-27.

OU spent most of the second half up by double digits when they really opened it up.

They got to that point because of a good start to the second 20 minutes.

"It was tempo," Coale said. "It was all about tempo. The first half we had eight opportunities to run. Eight. Everything else was a change of possession on a deadball, ball out of bounds, turnover, foul. There was some stoppage in play, so we only had eight opportunities to run. As much as you would like to keep that tempo on a deadball, it just changes.

"Defenses are back and they're set and it affects your cadence. The start of the second half, we had some opportunities and we found our rhythm and gained our confidence and sort of settled in."

It held its largest lead at 20 when Ellenberg's jumper ran the count to 62-42 with just more than five minutes remaining.

While Ellenberg was again the game's leading scorer, forward Joanna McFarland proved to be effective as well with 15 points.

Center Nicole Griffin had 10.

What good came out of Texas' lackluster offense—it shot just 38.6 percent and turned the ball over 23 times—came from Fussell, who finished as the only Longhorn in double figures with her 21.

Meanwhile, the Sooners (15-3, 5-1 Big 12) finished slightly better, although still not great, at 39.7 percent from the field and but narrowly lost the board battle 41-39.

That included 14 Texas offensive rebounds.

"We have spent twice as much time rebounding as anything else," Coale said. "Maybe offense suffered a little bit; maybe defense suffered a little bit. I'm not sure it really did, we just didn't shoot it very well, but I thought rebounding improved."

"Maybe it's when you're a little bit tired and you work on blockouts in practice, but we had to do something to change the tide there and I thought we did. It's too bad they ended up out-rebounding us there right at the end."

They'll get back to action when they face the conference's top team, Baylor, at 11 a.m. next Saturday in Waco.

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