DALLAS (AP) -- With freshman standout Courtney Paris dominating
the game, Oklahoma didn't have to be perfect to complete its
undefeated run through the Big 12.
Paris had 24 points and 26 rebounds and the No. 8 Sooners,
already the first Big 12 women's team to go 16-0 in conference
play, won the tournament championship with a 72-61 victory over
defending national champion Baylor on Saturday night.
"It's an amazing accomplishment," coach Sherri Coale said.
Oklahoma (29-4) won its third tournament title in five seasons
despite a season-high 32 turnovers.
"I'm so proud of our kids. I thought they competed well and
showed team unity throughout," Coale said. "I realize we set the
game back 15 years with our turnovers. You throw it to them 32
times and win -- we must have done something right."
Yeah, they relied on their 6-foot-4 center as they have all
Paris was selected the MVP of the tournament. She had 77 points
and 52 rebounds over three games, and is already well on the way to
breaking many of the Big 12 records Sophia Young set over the past
four seasons at Baylor (24-6).
The 26 rebounds broke the Big 12 tournament record of 16 Paris
set in Oklahoma's opening game this week. She has 497 rebounds this
season, and almost certainly will become the third woman to reach
500 in Oklahoma's first NCAA game -- when she also will become the
first player with 700 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks.
Paris had 14 rebounds by halftime, but Oklahoma only led 31-27.
The Sooners already had 19 turnovers, and Baylor turned those into
14 points to stay close even while making 8-of-42 shots (19
"We were pretty horrible and still up," Paris said. "Coach
ripped up the (stat sheet) and said don't worry about it, we can
Erin Higgins and Britney Brown had 15 points each for Oklahoma,
with Higgins' points coming on five 3-pointers. Leah Rush had 12
Young, the Big 12 player of the year, had 15 points on 4-of-14
shooting and nine rebounds.
"It was my worst offensive game ever. I was getting a little
bit frustrated," Young said. "Not anything they were doing, it
was just me not hitting shots."
Angela Tisdale had 14 points and Jessica Morrow 10 for Baylor,
whose only three losses in its last 13 games are against Oklahoma.
During the regular season, Oklahoma beat Baylor twice by a
combined seven points. The Sooners won in Waco on Jan. 21 when
Kendra Moore made a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left, and needed
overtime to win at home three weeks later.
The third matchup didn't live up to the earlier ones.
Baylor finished a season-worst 20-of-79 (25 percent) and never
led after the first 3 minutes. Higgins' 3-pointer with 16:07 left
broke a 6-all tie.
"We played as hard as we could defensively," coach Kim
Mulkey-Robertson said. "Our problem was our offense. Everybody who
played got open shots. You've got to make those shots."
During one stretch in the first half, Baylor kept passing on the
outside. When it finally passed inside to Young, Paris blocked the
shot. Paris blocked the next shot as well, and the Lady Bears were
1-of-15 before Jordan Davis made a 3-pointer with 12:22 left to
make it 13-11.
Higgins and Rush hit 3s on the next two Oklahoma possessions and
it was 19-11.
"Without Erin's three-point shots, we're not even in the game
in the first half," Coale said.
Young missed her first six shots before finally hitting to make
it 28-26 with 1:45 left. She hit a free throw a half-minute later,
but that was the closest Baylor got. Higgins ended the half with
her fourth 3-pointer, and the Sooners led by as many as 14 points
"When we hit from the perimeter, it's a huge advantage for
us," Higgins said. "When we're not hitting shots, that makes
Courtney work a little hard and she could get tired. We're here to
do what we can to help her."