Oklahoma 65, No. 23 Kansas St. 57
Sherri Coale did her best to dance around the question with Aaryn Ellenberg sitting right next to her. She finally gave up and admitted it: Ellenberg's first half was about as good as the Oklahoma coach has seen.
The sophomore guard had 19 of her season-high 31 points over the first 20 minutes, and wound up with nine steals, helping Oklahoma to a 65-57 victory over No. 23 Kansas State on Tuesday night.
''She's just so capable of that. I would like to say, I agree with you, maybe, but I've seen her just be unbelievable,'' Coale said. ''She gets a few going and the floodgates get open.''
Ellenberg hit seven of her first eight shots and all five of her 3-pointers, most of them hitting nothing but net. A couple of the 3s were from so far beyond the arc that a couple of players from the Kansas State men's team watching from the stands simply shook their heads.
''I guess I was just feeling it,'' Ellenberg said. ''I credit a lot to my teammates. They were finding me, and it made it that much easier to get into a rhythm.''
Morgan Hook added 11 points for the Sooners (11-5, 3-2 Big 12), who rebounded from a meltdown at Oklahoma State to ruin the Wildcats' first appearance in the Top 25 since 2008-09.
Tasha Dickey scored 18 points and Jalana Childs had 16 for the Wildcats (13-4, 4-1), who had knocked off then-No. 9 Texas A&M and then-No. 10 Texas Tech during a five-game winning streak. They had won eight straight games at Bramlage Coliseum.
''Give credit to Oklahoma,'' Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. ''I felt we looked extremely unprepared for what we saw, and didn't necessarily bring the poise that Oklahoma brought.''
Ball security and poor perimeter defense proved to be their downfall. Kansas State committed 18 turnovers and allowed the Sooners to shoot 7 of 13 from beyond the arc.
The Wildcats were just 3 of 22 from 3-point range.
''I thought our perimeter defense in the first half gave Oklahoma an opportunity to be in the basketball game with the easy 3 looks that we gave,'' Patterson said. ''I don't think that's indicative of the way we've defended over the course of the year.''
Ellenberg, a sophomore guard from Las Vegas, has shot better than 40 percent from long range in her career. She moved past Sunny Hardeman and into sixth place on the career list with 142 3-pointers. She's only failed to make one in two career games.
She also played solid defense on Brittany Chambers, who came into the game averaging a team-best 16.3 points. The junior guard finished with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, and contributed six turnovers in a sloppy backcourt performance by the Wildcats.
''We were a little unbalanced and we let it affect us too much. Us upperclassmen need to step up and take control and we didn't,'' Chambers said. ''They played a zone and they did everything that other teams have done. We didn't bring the heart, and yeah, I don't know.''
Oklahoma led 33-25 at halftime.
Kansas State managed to put together an 11-1 run to climb back into the game, and a basket by Branshea Brown with 13:30 left gave the Wildcats a 38-37 lead.
But the Sooners answered, and it was Ellenberg leading the charge.
She scored 10 of the Sooners' next 14 points, and an 11-0 run gave them some breathing room. Ellenberg's 3-pointer with 9:34 left gave Oklahoma a 52-42 lead.
Kansas State mounted one last push, trimming the lead to 58-56 on a basket by Dickey off a nifty feed from Childs with just over 2 1/2 minutes left. But the Wildcats couldn't pull even, and Hook made four free throws in the last minute-plus to seal the victory.
''Disappointing night,'' Patterson said. ''Oklahoma did a great job of coming in on the road.''