Thompson’s OT layup lifts No. 18 Sooners to win
By MURRAY EVANS
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Given second chances, both Danielle Robinson and Amanda Thompson acquitted themselves nicely on Saturday for No. 18 Oklahoma.
After missing a potential tying layup in the final minute of regulation, Thompson scored on a baseline drive with 9 seconds left in overtime, capping a 16-point, 14-rebound outing and lifting the Sooners over Arkansas 87-86.
Thompson’s heroics came after Robinson – who missed a potential game-winner in the final seconds last season against North Carolina – made sure the Sooners got to overtime, driving through traffic for a layup with three-tenths of a second left in regulation.
Robinson scored a career-high 31 points for Oklahoma (6-2), including 24 after halftime as the Sooners rallied from a 16-point deficit in the final 13 minutes.
Arkansas (5-2) had two chances to win in the final moments, but Lyndsay Harris and Ashley Daniels both missed close-in shots.
“They just never, ever looked like they were going to do anything but win,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said, noting most her players were on the squad that came back from 26 down last season at California. “They never looked defeated. They never looked rattled down the stretch.”
Oklahoma trailed 62-46 with 13 minutes left before Robinson fueled a comeback, scoring six points and assisting on a 3-pointer by Nyeshia Stevenson during an 11-0 spurt that cut Arkansas’ lead to 66-64 with 7:43 left.
Stevenson pulled the Sooners within 70-69 with 4:44 left, but Sarah Watkins – who scored 18 points – hit a 3-pointer, and Charity Ford followed with two more from behind the arc, making it 79-73 with 2:48 left. The Razorbacks went 10 of 21 from 3-point range.
Coale said the game turned when Arkansas point guard C’eira Ricketts, who scored 15 points, fouled out with 2:12 left in regulation on a charge drawn by Lauren Willis.
Thompson’s two free throws with 29.9 seconds left sliced Arkansas’ lead to 79-77. Harris and Jamesha Townsend both missed the front end of one-and-one free-throw opportunities in the final 18.3 seconds, allowing Oklahoma two chances to tie. Thompson missed a layup after Harris’ miss but Robinson scored following Townsend’s miss.
“I was thinking about the North Carolina game last year when I missed the layup to win the game so I said, ‘I’m going to make this one,'” Robinson said. “They didn’t really come up on me on the screen so I just drove to the basket and gave it a high floater off the glass.”
Robinson’s final basket with 48 seconds left in overtime gave Oklahoma an 85-83 lead, but Watkins made a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left before Thompson’s heroics. Thompson said she didn’t let herself get down after her miss at the end of regulation.
“I just knew in my head that I couldn’t give up,” she said. “If I missed one, there would be another possession. D-Rob gave me another opportunity to have that.”
Thompson said the play had been designed for center Abi Olajuwon, but with the Razorbacks closely guarding her teammate, Thompson saw the lane and drove.
“It couldn’t have happened to a better person,” Coale said. “It is really hard as a player to miss a play. But to have the fortitude to stay in the game is miraculous in and of itself because she did more than stay in the game, she actually took over in overtime.”
Ford and C’eira Rickets scored 15 points each for Arkansas.
“We gave them too many opportunities to beat us,” coach Tom Collen said. “We missed too many layups. We missed too many free throws. If we would have made our free throws down at the end we wouldn’t have gone into overtime. The game would have been over with probably by then. So that’s a little frustrating.”
Arkansas is playing nine of its first 12 away from home and hadn’t faced a ranked foe this season.
“I loved coming over here and playing this game because we needed this kind of competition,” Collen said.
The Sooners are 2-1 this season against Southeastern Conference foes, having beaten South Carolina and losing to Georgia. Oklahoma will play SEC power Tennessee on Jan. 3.
Updated December 5, 2009