9:00 PM ET, November 16, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Oklahoma freshman center Courtney Paris' college career is off to a sensational start. Three games, three wins, three-straight double-doubles.Paris scored 26 points and had 18 rebounds and the Sooners (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today; No. 25 AP) pulled away in the second half for a 74-63 win over New Mexico in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT Wednesday night.The Sooners (3-0) will play the winner of Thursday's semifinal between Connecticut (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP) and Boston College for the preseason tournament title.Paris, the daughter of former San Francisco 49ers All-Pro lineman Bubba Paris, has scored 69 points and has 48 rebounds in three WNIT games. She set a school record in her collegiate debut by scoring 24 points in Oklahoma's first round win over UW-Milwaukee and had 19 in a win over SMU on Sunday."We tried everything we could on her," said New Mexico coach Don Flanagan. "Not only was it her ability, but it was her team's ability to get her the ball. She creates problems because she posts up so well."Paris, who came into the game averaging 21.5 points and 15 rebounds, hit 11 of 15 shots, most of them lay-ups and repeatedly pulled rebounds off New Mexico missed shots.New Mexico (2-1) got 23 points from Dionne Marsh. Marsh missed her first five shots, then led a late first half New Mexico rally that got the Lobos within 35-34 at the half.But New Mexico, which had its 16-game homecourt winning streak snapped, never led.Oklahoma, with Leah Rush scoring six points went on an 11-3 run to start the second half and the Lobos got no closer than eight points the rest of the way."We know a lot more about our team than we did when we came here," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said.Paris scored six points and her twin sister Ashley added a free throw to put the Sooners up 56-42 with just over 13 minutes left.Rush scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half and Erin Higgins finished with 12 points on 4 3s.Oklahoma scored the game's first 10 points. Paris hit a layup 11 seconds into the game, Higgins followed with back-to-back 3-pointers and Rush got her only points of the first half with a layup."We've already created quite a confidence in our ability to come out of the chute," Coale said. "We hit big time shots -- deep 3s -- shots that Erin Higgins makes all the time."New Mexico had shooting problems at the start of each half. The Lobos hit just 2 of their first 11 shots and 2 of 13 shots in the first seven minutes of the second half."It almost looked like we were the away team," Flanagan said. "It took us so long to get acclimated. I think the speed of the game bothered us."New Mexico, with Marsh scoring on a variety of shots in the lane and Katie Montgomery and Abbie Letz hitting 3-pointers, steadily chipped away at the Oklahoma lead. A turnaround 12-foot jumper and two free throws by Marsh got New Mexico within 33-30. Oklahoma's Krista Sanchez hit a layup before Marsh finished the half with a pair of baskets in the lane."Halftime came at a great time for us," said Coale.Montgomery scored 11 points and Letz 9. The two combined to hit 6 of New Mexico's 7 3-pointers in the game.
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