NCAA: Rush shoots Sooners past Marist

Oklahoma forward Leah Rush shoots over Marist guard Kristen Vilardi during the first half of the Sooners' 58-45 win over Marist in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday in Tempe, Ariz. Rush led OU with 23 points. The Sooners will face the Stanford in a second round game on Monday in Tempe. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

Leah Rush couldn't have picked a better time to have her best game as a Sooner.

Rush, a freshman from Amarillo, Texas, scored a career-high 23 points including two late clutch baskets, as third-seeded Oklahoma (24-8) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 58-45 win over Marist Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz.

The Sooners, who led 28-23 at halftime, started the second half with a 14-0 run to push the lead to 42-23, but the Red Foxes answered with a 18-3 run over the next nine minutes to cut OU's lead to 45-41 with 4:05 remaining.

Dionnah Jackson hit one of two free throws on OU's next possession, and then Rush hit a hit a jumper from the corner to give the Sooners a 48-41 lead with 3:04 to go.

Marist cut the lead back to five by hitting a pair of free throws, and then Rush responded again with a jumper near the top of the key to push the lead back to seven at 50-43. The Red Foxes wouldn't get any closer from that point on, as the Sooners outscored them 8-2 over the final two minutes.

Jackson and Maria Villarroel each joined Rush in double figures with 14 and 12 points respectively. Villarroel also pulled down 11 rebounds, dished out four assists and recorded four steals.

Despite only going 1-for-13 from three-point range, the Sooners shot 41 percent (17-41) from the field and were an impressive 23-for-24 from the free throw line.

The Sooners will play sixth-seeded Stanford in the second round on Monday. The Cardinal (25-6) advanced with a 68-44 win over 11th-seeded Missouri late Saturday night.

Tip-off time for Monday's OU-Stanford matchup is expected to be announced on Sunday.

OU-Marist Box Score

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