8:00 PM ET, January 31, 2006
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- It apparently doesn't matter if Oklahoma has an off night if the Sooners' opponent is Oklahoma State.Such is Oklahoma's dominance over its Bedlam rival.Courtney Paris continued her run of double-doubles with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Oklahoma (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) beat Oklahoma State 70-54 on Tuesday night for its 15th straight win over the Cowgirls.The double-double was the 14th straight for Paris, the longest current streak in NCAA Division I women's basketball, and the 19th of the season for the freshman center, also tops in the nation.There were many positives for Oklahoma, which won its sixth straight game, a stretch that includes a road win over defending national champion Baylor. Oklahoma (18-4, 8-0 Big 12) is one win shy of matching its best start ever in conference play. The Sooners started 9-0 in league play during the 1999-2000 season.Every other Big 12 team has at least two conference losses this season.The Sooners' ranking is their highest since the final poll of the 2001-02 season, when Oklahoma, the national runner-up that season, was No. 2."Oklahoma's got a great team," Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke said. "That's a team with a legitimate chance to go to the Final Four."But against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma didn't shoot the ball particularly well (45.2 percent), committed 16 turnovers and outrebounded the Cowgirls only 38-37 -- after entering the game among the nation's leaders in rebounding margin at plus-11.7.Oklahoma had chances to turn the game into a rout, but never led by more than 20 points against outmatched Oklahoma State (6-14, 0-9)."If you can struggle a little bit and win by 16 against anybody in the league, that's not too bad," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said."I didn't think we played very well. We started off great and then went through the motions for awhile."Oklahoma State has lost 16 straight games against Big 12 teams, including conference tournament matchups. The Cowgirls, who lost by 34 points to Oklahoma in Stillwater on Jan. 14, haven't beaten Oklahoma since the 1999 Big 12 tournament and haven't won at Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center since 1998."There's always next year," Oklahoma State senior guard Catherria Turner said.As much as Oklahoma struggled, the Cowgirls fared worse, shooting 32.1 percent and committing 18 turnovers. Oklahoma State entered the game shooting 35.4 percent in Big 12 play.Center Whitney Pegram had 18 points and eight rebounds and forward Shaunte Smith scored 15 for Oklahoma State, which outscored the Sooners by eight at the free-throw line. But those were about the Cowgirls' only bright spots."I'm very proud of my team," Budke said. "We've obviously been struggling in the Big 12. There were a couple of different spots tonight when they could've blown us out of this building and I thought the team responded every timeout we took. They just hung in there and fought as hard as they could."Oklahoma never trailed, jumping to leads of 7-0 and 21-5 as the Cowgirls missed all but one of their first 15 shots. Oklahoma State used a 9-2 run to pull within 23-14, but Erin Higgins' third 3-pointer of the half restored Oklahoma's lead to 14 points.The Sooners led 36-24 at halftime.Oklahoma State was as close as 41-31 with 16:16 left, but Paris had two baskets in a 6-0 run to again extend the Sooners' lead.Britney Brown's three-point play with 8:52 left put Oklahoma ahead 58-38, and the Cowgirls got no closer than 12 points the rest of the way."I don't think we played with energy throughout the entire game," said Brown, who scored 11 points. "We had a couple of moments when we played hard and went on runs, but then we let them right back in. We made a turnover or didn't get an offensive rebound. We can't have that happen."Brown's backcourt mate, Chelsi Welch, scored 12 points. Paris, who played only 23 minutes, also had four blocked shots, two steals and two assists."I've said all year long that I think Courtney Paris is the best player in this country, and nothing changed my mind tonight," Budke said.
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