Paris, Sooners coast in NCAA opener

Courtney Paris (pictured) scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 2nd-seeded Oklahoma's (30-4) 78-66 win over 15th-seeded Pepperdine (14-17) Saturday in Denver. The Sooners will face 7th-seeded BYU (26-5) in the second round on Monday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Oklahoma's NCAA Tournament opener got off to a bit of a rocky start in the Rocky Mountains Saturday in Denver, but the second-seeded Sooners eventually found freshmen center Courtney Paris and ran away with a 78-66 win over 15th-seeded Pepperdine.

Paris didn't attempt a shot until the 13:04 mark of the first half, but once she got going she was hard to stop finishing with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks in just 21 minutes. She made her first six shots and finished 11-for-13 from the field.

Oklahoma trailed 8-6 early, but a Britney Brown jumper and two straight buckets by Paris sparked an 8-0 run that saw Oklahoma take the lead for good at 14-8. The Waves would cut the lead to 14-13 with 10:28 left in the first half, but OU responded with a 9-0 run to push the lead to 23-13.

Pepperdine would cut the lead to 27-19 with 5:35 to go, but OU closed the half on a 9-0 run to take a 36-19 lead.

The Sooners, who led by as many as 29 points in the second half at 64-35 with 7:57 to go, shot a 51 percent (25-49) from the field to the Waves' 32.9 percent (23-70). Oklahoma also outrebounded Pepperdine 40-25.

As for Paris, her tournament debut was a memorable one as she accomplished a feat that no other player has done in NCAA history while also as setting three Big 12 records in the process.

The 6-foot-4 center became the first woman in NCAA history to record 700 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks in a season. She also broke single-season Big 12 records for points scored, made field goals and free throw attempts.

Joining Paris in double figures were Brown (11), Leah Rush (10) and Kendra Moore (10). Brown also dished a game-high six assists while Rush finished with eight rebounds.

With the win, the Sooners improved to 30-4 overall and pushed their winning streak to 18 games, which is a new school record.

They will play 7th-seeded BYU (26-5) at either 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. CST Monday in Denver. The Cougars advanced to the second round with a 67-62 win over Iowa Saturday afternoon.

OU-Pepperdine Box Score

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