(1) OKLAHOMA, 69 - (9) GEORGIA TECH, 50
Unlike their opening-round victory over Prairie View A&M, the Sooners came out strong, jumping out to a quick 16-6 lead. But the Yellow Jackets came back, answering the run, and for the rest of the first half the teams stayed close before ending the half tied at 29.
At the break, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale admitted, perhaps with more than a little understatement, to being “irritated.” She must have gotten her point across in the locker room.
After the half the Sooners came out strong and immediately put distance between themselves and Georgia Tech. A 13-3 run gave them control of the game and they never lost control after that.
What should make the run scary for opponents is that it wasn’t a case of Courtney Paris putting the team on her strong shoulders, but rather the entire team stepped up. Five players scored for the Sooners during their run and that was the key to the game. Said Coale, “It’s five guys being on the same page and doing what we discussed and employing that strategy.”
Courtney and Ashley Paris dominated the boards, with Ashley grabbing 16 and Courtney 10. But the scoring came from other players. Courtney, who again had to deal with foul trouble, finished with nine points and Ashley had eight. Danielle Robinson led the team with 17 points and Whitney Hand added 15.
|Oklahoma's Danielle Robinson, left, looks to drive past Georgia Tech's Metra Walthour during the second half of this second-round women's NCAA college basketball tournament game, Tuesday, March 24, 2009, in Iowa City, Iowa. It was Robinson and Whitney Hand, rather than the Paris sisters, who provided the scoring punch for Oklahoma. Robinson scored 17 points as Oklahoma won 69-50. |
Other than the overall team play, the key to the game was the Sooner’s ability to neutralize Tech’s strengths. Georgia Tech bases its game on its athleticism, its ability to use pressure defense to disrupt its opponents and its three-point shooting.
In past seasons, Oklahoma has struggled with pressure but not this year. In fact, the Sooners only turned the ball over 16 times and had more points off turnovers, 16-9, than Georgia Tech.
The Sooners’ defense clamped down and held Tech to 17% shooting in the second half. Against Iowa, Tech scored 46 points in the paint. Oklahoma packed the paint defensively and outscored Tech 38-24 in the key.
With their strengths neutralized, the Techsters were no match for the Sooners. Georgia Tech again played the game without leading scorer, Alex Montgomery but, although she was badly missed, it’s unlikely her presence would have altered the outcome.
LOOKING AHEAD FOR THE SOONERS
Oklahoma goes home to play in the Oklahoma City regional where they will match-up with fourth-seeded Pitt. The Panthers rely on guard Shavonte Zellous to carry her team offensively. If the Sooners again pack the lane and take away her drives, it will be difficult for her to do that. Pitt also dominates teams on the boards and they are unlikely to do so against Oklahoma. Pitt is a good team and a deserving fourth seed but, if Oklahoma, plays well it’s hard to see how the Panthers can come away with a victory.