Sooners Spoil Senior Night, 71-62

The Lady Raiders were unable to send their two seniors off with a final home win on Wednesday night as the Sooners came to town and wrecked the party.

With all the pregame festivities honoring the two seniors for the Lady Raiders, Jordan Barncastle and Kierra Mallard, who played their final game at home on Wednesday night inside the United Spirit Arena, a win against Oklahoma would have nicely capped off the evening.

But the Sooners would have no part in helping with that part of the party as Oklahoma led for the majority of the game and handed Tech another heartbreaking loss, 71-62, marking the fifth-straight loss for the Lady Raiders.

"Well I mean it's always emotional on senior night, so that definitely adds to it and anytime you have a loss it's definitely emotional," Tech head coach Kristy Curry said. "Obviously they're upset, I think you tell from both of these they've had tears in their eyes, so we all have. As a competitor you want to win every game and we came up short tonight."

Texas Tech (17-12, 5-12 in Big 12 Conference play) came out of the gate and got a quick basket from Chynna Brown with just 18 seconds ran off the clock.

The Lady Raiders would hold onto the lead for just nine seconds before Oklahoma's Morgan Hook buried one of her three 3-pointers of the night giving the Sooners a 3-2 lead with 19 minutes and 33 seconds left in the first half.

Oklahoma (19-10, 11-6) proceeded to rattle off an 11-2 run before Tech was able to respond with a small run of its own.

The Lady Raiders tried time and time again to get back into the game, but the closest they would get to taking the lead back was with 6:57 left in the first half when Casey Morris drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 24 apiece.

This would mark the last time in the game that Tech would knot it up with the Sooners as Oklahoma took a 32-29 lead into halftime and never relinquished the lead ever again.

"I was really proud of our kids, I thought we really fought and we knew this Tech team would be ready and they would be aggressive, had a lot on the line as we all do in these final conference games," Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale said. "Tech gave us everything we wanted and then some, I just thought our kids responded really well. We've been working on responding than reacting and I thought we did a nice job of that tonight."

Tech tried to tie up the game or grab the lead in the second half multiple times but every time the Lady Raiders would draw close, Oklahoma's Aaryn Ellenberg seemed to answer for the Sooners every time on the other end to maintain a comfortable lead.

The sophomore recorded her first career double-double going 7-for-14 from the field for 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. 10 of her rebounds came on the defensive end.

After the game Ellenberg said the ball was just falling right into her hands all night long.

Ellenberg was not alone on the scoring front for the Sooners as Whitney Hand and Morgan Hook contributed 17 and 15 points, respectively.

They have learned how to play more as a unit, Ellenberg said, and especially when things are not going their way they play as a team to stay in it.

"I think we've learned to stick through everything, fight with each other," she said. "We've had really tough ones, and we've had some really good ones where we've played well we've played bad. Overall just learning to play together and just really stick with each other when things aren't going right."

With the Sooners having everything going their way, the same could not be said for the Lady Raiders as shots continued to not fall as Oklahoma's lead grew larger and larger.

Despite Casey Morris going for 19 points and Shauntal Nobles and Barncastle going for 11 each, it wasn't enough to slow down the freight train that was the Sooners on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma continued it to pile it on and with 1:45 left in the game the Sooners were able to pull away completely with a 13-point lead in hand, the largest of the game, and seal the 71-62 victory behind trips to the charity stripe.

 "We had a couple mental breakdowns, I don't think there's any question, you can think of two different three's on inbounds that we gave up," Curry said. "We had a couple mental breakdowns defensively, but you're going to have that at times, you just have to get a make on the other end. If you miss shots, you certainly got to go get stops. We couldn't combine enough of that with missed shots."

At the end of the night Tech attempted more shots, more free throws and forced 10 more turnovers than it committed but it all came down to the fact that the Sooners made more shots than them in the end.

The final step for the Lady Raiders in the 2011-2012 regular season will be to make a trip to the Little Big Apple to take on the Kansas State Jayhawks on Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams.

After that it will be on to the Big 12 Championships in Kansas City, which begin on March 7.

With all of this ahead of the team and her career coming to a close, Barncastle said she wants to finish on a high note and believes the team can do the same no matter what is thrown at them in the next few weeks.

"Just go out strong, nobody likes to end their career on a low," Barncastle said. "Go to K-State do something we haven't done there before, win there. Bump us up, get a couple wins in the tournament, win the tournament and then go from there. Whatever the future holds, I think if we stay who we are and stay true to our character I think either way we'll be successful and it'll be a positive experience."

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