COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Courtney Paris will do anything to help
No. 3 Oklahoma, including play the role of decoy.
Oklahoma's 6-foot-4 All-American had 15 points and 16 rebounds
to improve her streak to 35 straight games with a double-double.
But it was the Sooners' outside shooting that led to a 78-51
It's usually hard to miss -- or ignore -- Paris. Her scoring,
rebounding and presence down low are why the defending Big 12
Conference champions are among the favorites for a national title
But there were the third-ranked Sooners, swishing 3-pointers to
pull away while Paris tried to set up underneath the basket.
"Tonight," Paris said, "was my decoy night. If they're
watching me, we have guys that can shoot the ball. That's our deal.
That's what we do."
And it led the Sooners to their third 7-0 start in six seasons.
Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said her players were determined to
follow what's worked and get the ball to Paris near the basket.
"She's the best player in America. That's what we're going to try
and do," Coale said. "But we didn't do a good job adapting to the
fact they were not going to let the ball go to the post every
While Paris continued her streak that started more than a year
ago, it was her lowest point total of the season and well below her
22.3-point average coming in.
Paris came out fast and looked like she'd put this one away
herself, easily getting to the basket and drawing two fouls on
South Carolina star Iva Sliskovic in the first 38 seconds.
But the Gamecocks kept Paris in check the rest of the half,
limiting her to one field goal and 5 points. She proved a force on
the defensive end, though, with eight rebounds and four blocks in
the first 20 minutes.
At halftime, Coale got her players thinking about taking more
shots if Paris was covered. The move worked to perfection.
Oklahoma led 38-28 early in the second half when Leah Rush hit
two 3-pointers and Erin Higgins added a third. After Paris had an
inside bucket, Rush made another long shot to put the Sooners out
South Carolina did not get closer than 15 points the rest of the
Paris wasn't frustrated about her role in this one. After all,
she knows it'll take Oklahoma's outside shooters to win a national
"I like to touch the ball and I like to be an active player,"
Paris said. One of the best parts of playing with the Sooners, she
said, is that they are talented in many areas.
Rush said the focus was on slowing down on offense and "do what
we're capable of doing."
When the outside shots began to fall, "everything else opened
up," Rush said.
Paris came out after the break and quickly got two close-in
baskets and a pair of foul shots in the first three minutes to end
any suspense about the streak going forward.
Oklahoma has won its past 21 regular-season games.
Rush had 13 points, including three of the Sooners' seven
Melanie Johnson and Stacy Booker had 10 points to lead South
Carolina (5-4), which has lost three of its past four games.
Still, the Gamecocks used the 6-5 Sliskovic and 6-6 Ilona
Burgrova to lock down Paris in the paint.
With South Carolina concentrating close to the hoop, Oklahoma
found room to operate on the outside.
The Sooners were 6-of-9 on 3-pointers in the second half.
Sliskovic, the Gamecocks' top scorer coming in at nearly 12
points a game, was held to one field goal for 2 points. She was
1-of-7 from the field.
"We did a lot of things right in this game," South Carolina
coach Susan Walvius said. "Everything but put the ball in the