No. 11 Oklahoma 78, Prairie View 55
With three starters gone from the squad that went to back-to-back Final Fours, No. 11 Oklahoma is displaying the gap between potential and reality.
Danielle Robinson scored 26 points and freshman Aaryn Ellenberg scored 12 of her 19 points in the final 7 minutes to help No. 11 Oklahoma put away pesky Prairie View A&M 78-55 Sunday night and win the Basketball Travelers Invitational.
Oklahoma (6-0) seemed in complete control after ripping off a 36-6 run in the first half, but the Panthers wouldn't go away and cut a 26-point deficit to nine before Ellenberg came through to seal the victory.
''There's a difference between what you can do and what you are doing,'' Sooners coach Sherri Coale said. ''The `can do' is not really the question here. The `are doing' is the question all the time.''
The Sooners showed how dominant they can be by holding Prairie View (2-3) to only three baskets over a 14-minute stretch while taking the lead for good. Jasmine Hartman's driving layup completed a string of 18 consecutive Oklahoma points and made it 36-10 with 5:12 left before halftime.
Then came time for the Sooners to show how far they still have to go.
Latia Williams led an immediate 10-0 response by the Panthers, scoring seven straight points after Dominique Smith's 3-pointer to get the deficit down to 36-20. Prairie View kept chipping away as Oklahoma missed eight of its first nine shots after halftime, and Robin Jones followed Siarra Soliz's 3-pointer with a three-point play off of an offensive rebound to trim the lead to 53-44.
''They are very good in spurts, Oklahoma. Once they put it all together, they're going to be great,'' Prairie View coach Toyelle Wilson said. ''The kids are really young on their team.''
Coale called it part of the ''learning curve for a young team'' after the Sooners lost starters Nyeshia Stevenson, Amanda Thompson and Abi Olajuwon from last year's run to the national semifinals. Now, they're getting significant contributions from Ellenberg and fellow freshman Morgan Hand, plus sophomores Joanna McFarland and Lyndsey Cloman.
''It looked like a headless horseman,'' Coale said. ''Five guys going in five different directions.''
Ellenberg had a three-point play and a 3-pointer during an 8-0 run for the Sooners to make it 61-44 with just over 6 minutes remaining. Oklahoma kept pulling away from there for its third win in three days in the holiday tournament hosted on its home floor.
McFarland had 11 rebounds to offset an 0 for 7 shooting night.
''We've got to get mentally tougher and we have to play every possession hard, regardless of the score,'' said Robinson, a preseason All-America pick at point guard and the Sooners' senior leader. ''We're going to be playing a big game this weekend (at No. 7 Ohio State) and we've got another one Wednesday. We just have to keep getting better.''
Williams scored 14 points and Soliz added 12 for Prairie View, which had erased a 16-point halftime deficit to beat Gardner-Webb in its tournament opener two days earlier.
''I wasn't going to let them get like that, where they're just going to pack it down and bury themselves,'' Wilson said, ''because you can always fight back.''