Paris, Sooners sweep defending champs

Courtney Paris scored 31 points and grabbed 19 rebounds as Oklahoma (21-4) overcame an 8-point second half to deficit to defeat defending national champion Baylor (17-5), 81-77, in overtime Sunday in Norman. (AP Photo/Ty Russell)

Norman, Okla. — The much anticipated battle between defending national champion Baylor and Big 12 leader Oklahoma lived to the hype...again. The 9th-ranked Sooners, who needed a 3-pointer with .8 seconds left to beat the Bears in the first meeting between the two teams this season in Waco, needed an extra five minutes in an 81-77 overtime win in front of the largest crowd (12,112) to average watch a women's basketball game in the state of Oklahoma Sunday in Norman.

Oklahoma trailed by as many as eight points (55-47) with 9:37 to go, but made a comeback with freshman center Courtney Paris on the bench saddled with foul trouble to cut the lead to 55-54.

Paris, who sat just under eight minutes of the second half on the bench after picking up her fourth foul, eventually would come back into the game and give OU their first lead of the second half at 63-62, but regulation ended with the scored tied at 66-66 after Leah Rush made a free throw with 26 seconds left.

The lead changed seven times in overtime, but it was a Rush layup, assisted by Paris, with 2:38 left that gave the Sooners the lead for good. OU would push the lead to 78-75 on a jumper by Paris with 1:41 left, but the Bears responded with a Sophia Young jumper with 1:23 left to cut the lead to 78-77.

Two possessions later, the Bears purposely fouled Paris off the ball to send her to the free throw line with 19.4 seconds left. Paris, who was 3-for-9 from the line up to that point, calmy stepped to the line and sank both shots to extend the lead to 80-77.

Baylor quickly pushed the ball up the floor but Chameka Scott's 3-pointer was rebounded by Paris, who quickly passed the ball to Britney Brown. Brown was fouled and then hit the second of two free throws to ice the game with eight seconds left.

"Before I went to the line at the end of the game Krista (Sanchez) said, ‘You know they fouled you on purpose, right?' said Paris. "It makes me competitive, and it eases me a little. But it's something that I'm trying to work on."

Paris finished with 31 points and 19 rebounds in 31 minutes. Young, the 2005 Final Four MVP, was also spectacular with a career-high 36 points and 14 rebounds. She also single-handedly kept the Bears in the game in overtime with 10 points.

"It was an unbelievable game," said OU head coach Sherri Coale. "We had no answer for Sophia Young. We tried a lot of different things, but we just couldn't seem to slow her down. She's very deserving of her All-American status."

"Those two girls are big-time," said Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson on the peformance of Young and Paris. "One is just starting in the business at this level, and watching her for the next three or four years who knows how great she'll be. She's already at a level that not many freshmen ever achieve.

"The thing about them is that they don't force anything. They get good looks, good shots, good rebounds and they do it within a team concept."

With the win, the Sooners improve to 11-0 in Big 12 play and 21-4 overall, while Baylor falls to 17-5 and 7-4.

OU-Baylor Box Score: The Oklahoman

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