No. 11 Oklahoma 84, Fresno St. 66
With the way Oklahoma has started the season, it's easy to forget all the players who aren't around anymore after the Sooners' back-to-back Final Four appearances.
Danielle Robinson had 17 points and eight assists, freshmen Aaryn Ellenberg and Morgan Hook led an early 3-point barrage, and No. 11 Oklahoma beat Fresno State 84-66 on Monday night.
Ellenberg and Hook are filling a void that figured to be filled by the return of Whitney Hand, the Big 12 freshman of the year two seasons ago during the first of the Sooners' consecutive trips to the national semifinals.
Instead, Hand is out until January following a second surgery on her right knee. Not that anyone would be able to tell with Ellenberg and Hand combining to average 23.3 points and making 17 of their 37 tries from 3-point range this season.
''We've played so long without Whitney, we've forgotten what it feels like to have her out there,'' coach Sherri Coale said. ''We went through three-quarters of a year last year, and we'll gladly welcome her back and add that shooting touch and her offensive rebounding and her toughness and the vocal way in which she plays.
''All of that will make us even better.''
Until then, Coale's freshman duo is proving more than capable of picking up the slack. Ellenberg was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc and finished with 15 points while Hook had nine on 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range against Fresno State (3-2).
Lauren Willis added 11 points and Joanna McFarland had 13 rebounds as Oklahoma (3-0) led throughout.
''When everybody's clicking, it's just fun to play on all cylinders,'' McFarland said.
With Hand being out since five games into last season, Coale said she sees her incoming class of six newcomers doing more to make up for the loss of three senior starters from last season - Amanda Thompson, Nyeshia Stevenson and Abi Olajuwon.
And Robinson, a preseason All-America selection, is leading the way.
Robinson zoomed around the left side for a layup after Oklahoma won the opening tip, and she had 11 points as the Sooners raced out to an early 18-4 advantage following Hook's first 3-pointer. Ellenberg added two 3-pointers, Hook connected again and Willis also hit a 3 as Oklahoma made pushed its lead to 38-15.
The Sooners started out 6-for-6 from 3-point range and were 9-for-12 early in the second half before missing five of their last six attempts.
''When (Robinson) starts a game aggressively as she did tonight, that sort of shocks the defense. I felt like she sort of put Fresno on their heels for a bit, and then that opened up 3-point shooters and we made those,'' Coale said. ''So they were in a quandary of `What do we try to take away?'
''Really that intensity and that punch that she gave us to open the game is what started the snowball.''
The Bulldogs, who were undefeated in conference play last season on their way to a third straight WAC title, were never within single digits in the final 34 minutes.
Oklahoma led by 21 at halftime and extended its lead to as much as 33 - after Carlee Roethlisberger's putback made it 70-37 - before Fresno State cut into the lead against Coale's reserves.
Hayley Munro scored 12 points despite foul trouble to lead the Bulldogs, and Marnique Arnold scored 11.
''They're very comfortable with one another right now, and I think that's what you see that we're not,'' said Fresno State coach Adrian Wiggins, who formerly coached at Cameron in southwestern Oklahoma.
''We have some new players and we're figuring out our returners. We're still learning that.''