It was a bittersweet night for the 23rd ranked OU Women's basketball team.
The Sooners ran their record to 3-1 by beating Sam Houston State, 79-52, but in the process lost their best player and All-American candidate in senior Caton Hill and super freshman Erin Higgins to ACL injuries.
"It's such a difficult thing," said Coale of the injuries. "It's just one of those deals where you question, is this for real?"
"When and where does this happen twice in one day. It is beyond a fluke. It is beyond strange. You've got to look at this and say there's a reason. We will find it (a reason) and turn it into something good."
ACL injuries are becoming the curse of collegiate women's basketball and the on the current Sooner team redshirt Antoinette Wadsworth, senior Stephanie Simon, Laura Andrews, freshman Casey Walker and Higgins are either coming back from ACL surgery and trying to rehab from the injury. Former Sooner All-American Stacey Dales also suffered an ACL tear her freshman season.
Hill says that she will now redshirt this year, have surgery in three weeks and then rehab the knee to get back for next season. Higgins will go through a similar process.
With Hill's leadership and Higgins' spark off the bench gone, the Sooners regrouped behind junior college transfer Maria Villarroel, who scored a career-high 31 points with five rebounds and four steals. Freshman center Beky Preston came up big off the bench and scored 13 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in 21 minutes.
Preston will receive more minutes along with Simon with Hill out of the lineup. With Higgins gone fellow freshman Lauren Andrews will get the majority of her minutes.
The Sooners head to Hawaii to play in a tournament where they will be guaranteed three games. Before the injuries the Sooners were favored to meet up with fifth-ranked and defending National Champion UConn in the finals.Now, it will be interesting to see how the Sooners can put together wins with a revamped lineup.
OU-Sam Houston Box Score
Sooners rout Sam Houston, lose two key players
Sooners Illustrated Top Stories
OU making its move for Patrick FieldsIntel returns with an update on high three-star safety Patrick Fields.
Sooners Illustrated5:59 AM
Ron Tatum still scratching the surfaceIntel returns with an update on Scout 300 defensive end Ron Tatum.
Sooners Illustrated5:56 AM
Sooner Intel: OU news and nuggetsIntel returns with an update on OU's recruiting efforts at junior day.
Sooners Illustrated5:53 AM
SI's 2018 OKPreps Top 25: Full listFull list revealed for Sooners Illustrated's OKPreps top 25 for 2018.
Sooners Illustrated5:47 AM
SI's 2018 OKPreps Top 25: Top 5Countdown is done. Sooners Illustrated reveals the top five in OKPreps for 2018.
Sooners Illustrated5:37 AM