NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Courtney Paris had proven time and again
that she could score and rebound with the nation's best. However,
her twin sister wasn't convinced she could come through in the
That changed Sunday, when Paris had 31 points and 19 rebounds,
and hit two key free throws to keep Oklahoma (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) ahead in the
final minute of an 81-77 overtime win against Baylor (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP).
"Ashley these last few days has been telling me, 'Courtney,
You're not clutch. You can't do anything clutch," Paris said.
"'You can't come down the court and shoot 3-pointers. You can't be
my favorite player. My favorite player can do this, can do that.'
"Now I can tell her, 'Clutch free throws."
After three straight lead changes, Leah Rush put Oklahoma ahead
76-75 with a layup set up by Baylor's double-team of Paris. Paris
then rebounded Erin Higgins' missed 3-pointer and put it back to
give Oklahoma (21-4, 11-0 Big 12) a three-point lead.
Sophia Young responded with a right-handed basket in the lane,
then knocked the ball out of bounds off Paris at the other end.
However, Young couldn't connect on a jumper in the lane, and Jordan
Davis fouled Paris without the ball to send the 53-percent
free-throw shooter to the line.
That's when guard Krista Sanchez stepped up to tell Paris what
she needed to hear.
"Before I went up to shoot, she said, 'You know they fouled you
on purpose, right?' So automatically, it goes from 'I'm going to
miss them. I can't make them, to OK," Paris said. "It's just a
Paris made both her shots with 19.4 seconds left, stopping to
let out a yell after the first went down.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson said it was her strategy to
have Paris fouled on purpose.
"I wanted more time to get the ball back and get a good look
but she made both free throws," Mulkey-Robertson said. "Give her
credit. I could have said let's just make a defensive stop here and
we'll get it back with 7 to 9 seconds."
Chameka Scott missed a potential tying 3-pointer from the left
wing, and Britney Brown hit one of two free throws to give Oklahoma
a four-point lead. Baylor (17-5, 7-4) didn't get another shot off
as the game ended with a scrum on the floor for the ball.
The Sooners huddled and hugged at midcourt, and Coale pointed to
the sellout crowd and pumped her fist in the air in celebration.
Young, who wound up matched against Paris at the end of
regulation and in overtime, scored a career-high 36 points and
added 14 rebounds to set a Big 12 record with her 54th career
double-double. She passed Angie Welle, who had 53 for Iowa State
from 1999-2002. The defending NCAA champions have lost four Big 12
games by 12 total points.
"We didn't have an answer for Sophia Young," Coale said. "She
is a Kodak All-American if I've ever seen one. She has that
free-throw line jumper. It is soft and as pretty as anything I've
ever seen, and we just did not have an answer for that."
Rush scored 12 points to become Oklahoma's 19th player to
surpass 1,000 in her career. Krista Sanchez and Brown had 11 points
apiece, and Ashley Paris had 10 rebounds for Oklahoma, which had a
52-38 rebounding edge.
Courtney Paris notched her 17th straight double-double and 22nd
of the season, extending her Big 12 records in both. Oklahoma's
start is the best in Big 12 history.
"This team hasn't been about 'let's keep it perfect and run the
table," Coale said. "It's been about 'let's get better' and we
still are. We're a work in progress. We're playing pretty well, but
not nearly as well as we're capable of playing."
The Sooners drew a record crowd of 12,112 -- breaking by 32 the
previous high set in 2003 when Tennessee came to town -- and gave
away white T-shirts to each fan for a "whiteout" effect.
But it was Oklahoma that seemed to come out nervous. A game
after committing a season-low six turnovers, the Sooners had eight
in the first 8 minutes with only Paris -- who scored 15 of the
team's first 20 points -- steadying the way.
Baylor built on its five-point halftime lead by scoring the
first four points of the second half, but Oklahoma closed within
one before Paris went to the bench with four fouls with 13:25 left.
With their top scorer and rebounder out, the Sooners fell behind
by eight, but then rallied back within one again by the time she
re-entered with 5:14 left.
Paris scored Oklahoma's next five points and gave the Sooners
their first lead of the second half at 63-62 with a three-point
play with 2:55 remaining.
The teams traded free throws before Angela Tisdale put Baylor up
66-65 on a right-handed floater in the lane. Rush tied the game by
making one of two free throws with 25.6 seconds left, and Tisdale's
runner rolled off the back of the rim to send the game to overtime.
Tisdale finished with 10 points for Baylor.