Not so Sweet 16 for Sooners

Courtney Paris (pictured) scored 31 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to push the Oklahoma past Mississippi. See inside for today's box score. (AP Photo)

Courtney Paris was almost unstoppable, but she wasn't enough to push Oklahoma past Mississippi into Elite Eight.

The 6-foot-4 center extended her double-double streak to 61 games with a mammoth 31-point, 20-rebound effort, but it was Mississippi's much-feared pressure defense that ended OU's 10-game winning streak and National Championship hopes in a 90-82 loss Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.

The Sooners thought they had fixed their turnover problem when they inserted freshman Jenna Plumley into the starting lineup and promptly began a 10-game winning streak. But the Rebels' pressure defense was just too much for the Sooners to handle as they turned the ball over 26 times.

The Rebels jumped out to a quick 5-0 spurt, but the Sooners roared back to take an 8-5 lead at the 15:12 mark of the first half. However, that would be the Sooners' last lead of the game as Ole Miss responded with an 11-0 run.

The Sooners trailed 41-36 at halftime, but found themselves constantly fighting from behind. In fact, they didn't posses the ball with a chance to take the lead at any point of the second half.

Ole Miss would stretch the lead to 58-44 with 13:24 to go, but Oklahoma fought back and cut the lead to 66-64 with 7:25 left. However, the Rebels responded with a 11-2 run over the next five minutes to break away from Oklahoma for good.

For the game, Oklahoma actually made four more field goals than Ole Miss but the Rebels were more aggressive and were able to get to the free throw line where they made 29 free throws to OU's 11.

Also, Mississippi's 90 points were the most given up by an Oklahoma team since 2002.

With the loss, the Sooners end the season at 28-5 overall. They also fell to 1-5 in Sweet 16 games.

Box Score | Notes

Below is a transcript of Sherri Coale's postgame quotes following the Sooners' 90-82 loss to Mississippi.

Opening Statement
"Obviously, there are two statistical categories that don't bode well for us, one being turnovers and the other being offensive rebounds that we allowed Ole Miss to get. But when I look at it, and obviously those are two things that we keyed on coming in that we knew we had to do that were going to be significant factors. But when I look at this sheet, we still made more two-point field goals. We made more three-point field goals. We shot a better percentage from two. We shot a better percentage from three. We shot a better percentage from the free throw line. So, while it certainly affected the game, it doesn't tell the whole story."

On what's going throug her mind when seeing a team shoot so poorly but still win?
"Well, I can look at the stat sheet and dissect it a million ways. When you score almost 30 from the free throw line, that's pretty significant. That's a piece of it. We gave up way too many offensive boards and too many turnovers. They out-quicked us to a lot of loose balls, and those late free throw block outs were huge when they would finally miss a couple of those at the charity stripe. We didn't reel it in."

On the Ole Miss pressure
"We had some unforced turnovers, which they force enough on their own. We don't need to throw it out of bounds like we did a couple of times. Just miscommunication and playing faster than we're capable of playing. Trying to play faster than we're capable of playing. Once we got the ball to the middle of the floor, we had post isolation anytime we wanted it. What their defense does is that it speeds you up so much that you fail to see the obvious. We didn't do a good job of coming out of timeouts all night long, our mental concentration. I don't know how much of that was the frenetic pace that they go at, how much of that was the heat. I don't know what, but our concentration when we changed things out of timeouts just was not good all night long."

On the seniors leading in the second half
"The seniors were just terrific. I thought they fought, and I would expect no less from them. This group has done an amazing job this year of finding ways to be successful. Lots of recipes for that. Their attitude, their mindset, and their sense of selflessness has been impressive to say the least. I knew Brittany Brown would scratch and claw and do everything that she could. I thought her minutes were absolutely huge. The other guys as well, just fighting as we would expect Oklahoma to do."

On if they were prepared for the heat in the arena?
"Personally, I wasn't. I know at this level I've never coached a game in that type of circumstance. Never. I don't remember it ever being 90 degrees or so on the floor, and maybe that's my fault for not anticipating that and talking about it more with our kids. We came in at shoot around and it was hot, and we talked about it a little bit and just choose to take the stance that we don't call attention to it. Let's just go play. You can't change it any way. You sit here when you lose and you think of 50 different things you wish you could have done. I'm not really convinced a conversation about the potential heat in the gym would have saved what happened today, but you never know."

On if she ever found a lineup she was comfortable with
"Not really. Early on, Amanda [Thompson] got into some foul situations, and we really liked the match-up with Amanda guarding Armintie Price. We didn't get to see that much at all because of the early fouls. We wanted to play Jenna [Plumley] and Britney [Brown] a little bit together, and Jenna was struggling a little with all that and so we kept rotating that position as well. And you wanted a shooter there, but you also wanted someone who could get to the rim. It was just, kind of, put them in a pot and stir them up and try to figure out which one could come out do it at the time. There were some combinations that worked along the way. At the end of the day, we didn't block out well enough, and we turned it over too much, and obviously we fouled too much."

On if it's getting tougher to win in this round?
"Oh, I don't know. I think so much of it is about who you match up with. What's a good match for you, and you've got to be really good and a little bit lucky too, and you can't be unlucky. Of all the types of teams that we could run into, this was probably the worst recipe for us. I thought we battled valiantly, just wasn't good enough to get it done ultimately."

On what pieces are needed to get farther in the tournament
"The most blatant thing as we sit here on the heels of this is team speed. We couldn't outrun them to any loose ball or any long rebound. We couldn't get there first. There's got to be a healthy balance of that I think. I still strongly believe in skill positions, but when you can combine that, I think the deeper and deeper you go. You look at the teams that are consistently in the top ten, there's great speed."

On Courtney Paris' performance and conditioning
"She's just an extraordinary kid. I think her will overplays any sort of physical circumstances she might be in. She's just one of the most competitive kids I've ever met, and she reaches down and finds something you don't even know is there when a game is on the line. It doesn't surprise me that she gave us the effort that she gave us today. She's just a special, special player who's still got a great deal of upside as well as she played and as ridiculous as her numbers have become, still a huge upside in that kid."

On if playing Maryland would've been a better matchup
"Oh, we don't care. We just wanted to play in the elite eight. We didn't care who was there. Of the two, Maryland and Ole Miss, Maryland might have been a better match for us, truthfully, in style of play. You can spin it anyway you want. Ole Miss isn't big enough on the interior to guard our bigs if we can have the poise to get it there, and Maryland was. So, it just depends. You've got to be good at what you do."

On missing out on the goals and expectations of the season
"There's a big difference between being frustrated at not reaching the goals that you've set for yourself and discounting everything that you did that was fabulous along the way. If we did that, there would be one team in America full of kids that felt good about a 365 day commitment. That would be ridiculous. We're going to continue to stretch our sites, and the goal will again be a Final Four and a national championship, but you can't discount particularly what the senior class has done, the number of Big 12 titles that are very difficult to come by, getting every year into the NCAA Tournament, and two consecutive appearances in the sweet 16. That is hard to do. Ask all the rest of teams in America that have been finished for a while now how difficult it is to be playing on this weekend. We won't discount that."

On how hard it is to let go of these seniors?
"That's the toughest part of coaching, without a doubt. But you know what, those kids will always have those relationships they've formed the rest of their lives, and as a coaching staff, we'll always have those relationships with those kids. It doesn't end because the competitive cycle ends. Your relationship changes. In many ways, it becomes even deeper and better."

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