BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) -- Only five games into the season, the
Oklahoma Sooners have developed a habit Coach Sherri Coale wants to
Courtney Paris scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, her
33rd consecutive double-double, as third-ranked Oklahoma routed
Lamar 79-44 on Wednesday night.
The Sooners (5-0) were in control most of the way, but played
sluggishly through much of the first half. They led by 15 at the
break, despite shooting 32 percent from the field (13 of 41) and 33
percent from the free-throw line (5 of 15).
This wasn't the first time Coale has noticed her team playing
less than its best for long stretches.
"For whatever reason, we seem like we're waiting for a reason
to play," Coale said. "And the reason to play is because there's
a game. And that should be reason enough for any competitor."
The Sooners opened the second half with a 14-4 burst, looking
smoother on offense and smothering the Cardinals on defense.
Lamar (2-4) turned the ball over on its first five second-half
possessions and Paris scored twice inside, then converted a
three-point play to push the Sooners' lead to 22.
"In the first half, we forgot to just go out and play," Paris
said. "We thought about way too much, instead of just going out
and playing basketball."
Quiana N'Joku scored in the lane with 12:22 left, Lamar's first
field goal in the second half. The Cardinals trailed 49-26 at that
point, the result of nine turnovers in the first 7 1/2 minutes
after the break.
The Sooners led 77-42 when Coale finally pulled her starters.
Oklahoma 0utrebounded Lamar 51-29 and held the Cardinals to 32
percent shooting (13 of 41). The Sooners have held all five
opponents below 40 percent.
Alexis Timpone and LaToya Carson scored 11 points apiece for the
Cardinals. Carson became the ninth player in Lamar history to pass
Oklahoma will be favored in its next four games before a Dec. 20
showdown with No. 6 Ohio State in Norman. By then, Coale said her
team should have figured out how to sustain a high level of
intensity for a full game.
"It's real easy to fix," said Coale. "It's not like there's
something we have to invent, or suddenly create. It's just
everybody using their gifts and doing what they can do."
Nyeshia Stevenson scored 13 and Leah Rush added 11 for the
Sooners, who've won 19 consecutive regular-season games and 11
straight on the road.
The 6-foot-4 Paris overpowered the smaller Cardinals all night,
getting many of her baskets after rebounding her own misses. Paris
pulled down nine offensive rebounds, two more than Lamar had as a
Paris is only a sophomore, and Lamar coach Leonard Drake said
she has the potential to become an all-time great.
"I like to think I've watched a lot of women's basketball,"
said Drake. "She has an opportunity to be the greatest center in
the history of the women's game."
The Sooners missed 12 of their first 17 shots, most of them from
short range, and Timpone hit two 3-pointers from the wing to keep
But Stevenson's 3-pointer from the top of the key started an
11-0 Oklahoma spurt and the Sooners were never threatened again.
The Cardinals missed seven consecutive shots during the run and
Stevenson's steal and breakaway layup gave the Sooners a 27-13 lead
with 7:19 left in the half.
Carson's jumper ended a six-minute scoring drought for Lamar,
but Chelsi Welch answered with a 3-pointer at the other end to put
Oklahoma up 30-16. The Sooners have hit a 3-pointer in 100
The Sooners kept missing open shots, but controlled the rest of
the half with swarming defense and dominance on the boards. They
led 35-20 at the break after holding Lamar to 26 percent shooting
(7 of 27) and outrebounding the Cardinals 35-18.
"We did everything but play hard," Paris said of the Sooners'
Oklahoma shot only 32 percent (13 of 41) from the field in the
first half. Coale's halftime message was short on adjustments and
heavy on motivating her team.
"We all just knew we had to play harder," Paris said. "Coach
came in and said the same thing. It was simple. It wasn't anything
we needed to write up."