9:00 PM ET, December 30, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- With No. 20 Oklahoma safely in front late in the second half, Sooners freshman sensation Courtney Paris was hit in the back by a ball tossed by a New Mexico fan.It got Paris angry, but the ball in the back didn't compare to the damage she inflicted on the No. 16 ranked Lobos.Paris got her 10th double-double of the season with 24 points and 15 rebounds, and Chelsi Welch added a season-high 20 points as the Sooners beat New Mexico 83-70 Friday night."I have a lot of respect for New Mexico fans because of the environment here and their huge support for women's basketball, but I thought that was the most classless thing ever," Paris said.Paris, who leads the nation in double-doubles, had 20 points and 14 rebounds in the second half after getting in foul trouble early and playing just five minutes in the opening period.Oklahoma (10-3) didn't miss Paris, as Welch scored 18 points in the first half. Welch scored eight points in an 18-0 run that put the Sooners safely ahead at 30-8 with 9:28 left. Welch, who went 10-for-10 at the free throw line, also had 10 rebounds for a double-double by halftime.With a front row seat to the scoring clinic, Paris didn't mind being a spectator."I'm so glad I got those two quick fouls," Paris said. "I got a chance to sit on the bench and watch Chelsi Welch and Leah Rush and the others step up. It's the best feeling."New Mexico (9-3) shot just 35 percent. The Lobos, with reserves Julie Briody and Timi E-Nunu out with injuries, couldn't match up with the Sooners' quickness and the inside muscle of Paris."Everyone on that team can score and their post players are much bigger than we are," said New Mexico guard Katie Montgomery.New Mexico trailed by 20 or more points most of the second half before outscoring the Sooners 14-2 in the final 3:23.Oklahoma, which beat New Mexico 74-63 in Albuquerque in the semifinal round of the preseason WNIT, had a 49-38 edge in rebounding. In that game, Paris scored 26 points and had 18 rebounds.This time New Mexico took it right at Paris early and got two quick fouls on her in the first 2½ minutes. But there was no stopping the other Sooners."They're all good players," said Lobo center Jana Francis. "We tried stopping them the way we thought would work, but they had other weapons."Francis and Brandi Kimble each scored 15 points for New Mexico. Francis hit three 3-pointers in the second half.New Mexico led only once, on Abbie Letz' turnaround jumper in the opening minute. The Sooners' 18-0 run started with back-to-back 3s by Erin Higgins and Welch. It ended with another 3 from Higgins, who hit four in the game.Paris, who is averaging 22 points and 14.7 rebounds a game, took over in the second half. Her five straight points squelched a brief New Mexico rally that cut the Sooners' lead to 47-30 after a three-point lay by Dionne Marsh with 18:34 left in the game.New Mexico, unable to get much scoring inside, put up 18 3-pointers and hit five. The Lobos were 0-for-8 on 3s in the first half."They believed they were going to be successful and for some reason we didn't believe we were going to be successful," New Mexico coach Don Flanagan said. "They had better effort and were much more physical and aggressive in the first half."
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