Oklahoma women fall short in OT against Louisville

Oklahoma women’s coach Sherri Coale saw a lot of positives after
her team’s tough overtime loss to Louisville.

The 11th-ranked Sooners had their chances, just couldn’t pull
off the victory against the fifth-ranked Cardinals, falling 97-92
in overtime on Sunday night in the preseason WNIT championship
game.

”I am really proud of our team,” Coale said. ”What a great
basketball game. What a great showcase for women’s college
basketball. I think everybody here was entertained and everybody
who watched at home was entertained as well.”

In the extra period, Louisville jumped out to a 95-87 lead with
1:39 left. Morgan Hook hit two free throws and got the Sooner to
within six points.

Aaryn Ellenberg hit her third 3-pointer of the afternoon closed
the deficit to 95-92. The Cardinals (4-0) then turned it over on
the inbounds pass with 25 seconds on the clock.

The Sooners got the ball to Hook, who’s 3-point attempt was off
the mark. OU got the rebound and it was Ellenberg’s turn. But her
shot also fell short and that ended the Sooners upset bid.

”There was a lot to take away from it,” Ellenberg said. ”I
don’t think we should hang our heads about anything. We played a
great game. We jsut came up short. We have to put this game behind
us and think about the next game.”

She paced the Sooners (3-1) with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Sharene Campbell added 19 points, five rebounds and three steals in
the loss.

Tia Gibbs came off the bench to lead the Cardinals with 23
points and nine rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Shoni Schimmel
scored 16 points while Asia Taylor had a double-double with 10
points and 10 rebounds. Sara Hammond, the tournament MVP, posted 13
points and seven rebounds.

”It’s an honor, any individual award you get,” Hammond said.
”But this is a team MVP type thing. Each game, someone stepped up
big time throughout the tournament.”

Oklahoma’s defense to start the game was rabid. It had
Louisville lost as it looked for open passing lanes. OU jumped out
to a 9-0 lead after forcing six turnovers in the opening five
minutes.

After falling behind 17-2 Tia Gibbs led the Cardinals back into
the game. They closed to within 35-34 with 4:25 left in the first
half. Louisville did it by pounding the glass and the getting
second chance points. But it was a 3-pointer by Shoni Williams that
gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 40-39.

In the final 13 minutes, Louisville outscored Oklahoma 46-26 and
took a 48-43 halftime advantage.

”Oklahoma came out and absolutely just punched us square in the
nose,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said. ”We didn’t respond well. I
told my staff, I’m not calling time out. I don’t care if it gets to
30-2. It’s the fourth game of the year and I was going to challenge
my players. They have to learn to figure some things out by
themselves.”

Late in the second half, the Sooners got their defense back to
the pace it had set in the first half. Along with Kaylon Williams
asserting herself in the post, the OU stormed back to take a 78-77
advantage. Ellenberg drained a 3-pointer and Campbell knocked in a
pair of free throws to give OU a five point lead with 1:28
left.

Shoni Schimmel was fouled while hitting a running jumper. She
completed the 3-point play and closed the gap to 83-80.

After forcing Louisville into a turnover, Hammond was fouled and
sent to the line where she hit both free throws. OU led 83-82 with
50 seconds on the clock.

The final minute of regulation went at a frenetic pace.
Ellenberg nailed jumper with 23.3 left to give Oklahoma a 85-82
lead. Jude Schimmel quickly responded and closed the gap to one
point.

After Carter hit 1-for-2 from the charity stripe, Oklahoma led
by two points. But Jude Schimmel went coast to coast and laid in an
uncontested layup to tie the game at 86-86 with 17 seconds
left.

”Jude Schimmel got to the rim so fast,” Coale said. ”I
thought it was her layup, before the layup that tied it that really
hurt us. If we could have just forced them into using 10 to 12
seconds on the shot clock, it’s ours. We own the game.”

Ellenberg had a chance to end the game in regulation when she
drove the court and had an open layup attempt. But the senior was
unable to put it down as the buzzer sounded and the game wen into
OT.

”It’s a top 15 battle.” Hammond said. ”And ofcourse, we are
here on Oklahoma court. They are very good at home. These are the
games you love. This is why people come to pay their money to watch
us. We didn’t want it to go to overtime, but I am glad people got
their money’s worth with a game like this.”