The battle between 11th-ranked Michigan State (8-2), last year's runner-up in the NCAA Tournament, and No. 16 Oklahoma (9-3) never materialized because the Sooners couldn't shoot a lick.
OU misfired at the start missing 10 lay-ups in the opening five minutes, six from freshman Ashley Paris, as Michigan State built a 10-point lead and never trailed beating the Sooners 80-60 in front a great crowd of 8,727 Wednesday night at the Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners crawled to within four thanks to an opportunistic defense at 20-16, but freshman sensation Courtney Paris picked up her second foul, forcing Sherri Coale to pull her with six mintues left in the first half. With Courtney on the bench, the Spartans went on a 14-0 run and eventually went to the locker room leading 34-20.
The Sooners shot just 22.9 percent in the first half and would finish the game shooting only 27.8 percent from the floor. And for only the second time this year, Oklahoma was beaten on the boards as Michigan State out-rebounded the Sooners 52-45.
Oklahoma, who trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half, would fight back to within 12 on a couple of occasions only to watch as the Spartans always had an answer.
The game was a case of Courtney Paris playing like an All-American and the best center in the country scoring 29 points and grabbing 21 rebounds, while the rest of the team watched her.
Paris was incredble despite playing against 6-1 All-American candiate Liz Shimek (25, 14), 6-3 Myisha Bannister and 6-3 Laura Hall. Paris was tremendous on both ends of the court also blocking one shot and coming up with one steal while recording her ninth double-double of the season.
Every other Sooner struggled, except for Krtista Sanchez and Chelsi Welch off the bench. Sanchez would hit only 2-of-10 from the floor, but she agressively attacked the rim and played with no fear. Welch was 1-3, but hit a 3-pointer that sparked OU's second half run.
Starters Leah Rush and Erin Higgins and Ashley Paris struggled throughout. Rush finished with eight points and eight rebounds, while Higgins finished with just three points.
Until the rest of the Sooners step up their game and join Courtney Paris at a higher level, the Sooners are not going to be a prime-time team, no matter how good Paris is.
A few baskets would really help this team, but until they relax and play up to their potential they are going to struggle aginst national caliber type teams like Michigan State.
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