3:00 PM ET, December 17, 2006
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Now that Oklahoma is finished with the preliminaries, the Sooners can focus on the main event: a showdown with Ohio State.No. 3 Oklahoma prepped Sunday for that marquee matchup, as Courtney Paris had 20 points and 13 rebounds -- her 37th straight double-double -- and the Sooners set a school record for defensive prowess in an 82-36 rout of Northern Colorado.The Sooners extended their regular-season winning streak to 23 games, the longest in NCAA Division I and two shy of the Big 12 Conference record. No. 8 Ohio State, which will visit the Lloyd Noble Center on Wednesday, had held that distinction until its loss to LSU last Sunday.The Buckeyes are the last team to beat Oklahoma during the regular season -- 75-71 on Jan. 9. Oklahoma has played only one ranked team so far this season, beating then-No. 20 DePaul 105-71 in the season opener."It's certainly a big game," Paris said of the Ohio State-Oklahoma matchup. "Everyone knows that. That's why you play, for that challenge."The Sooners weren't challenged much Sunday. Oklahoma (9-0) held Northern Colorado (2-8) of the Big Sky Conference to 22 percent shooting. The Bears, who made 13 of 58 shots, became the third straight Oklahoma opponent to shoot below 30 percent, joining South Carolina (29 percent) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (22 percent).It's the first time in Oklahoma's 33 seasons of women's basketball that the Sooners have held three straight opponents below 30 percent shooting.Northern Colorado's 36-point total was the lowest allowed by the Sooners since a 105-35 win over Prairie View A&M in December 1991 and matched the fifth-lowest total in Oklahoma history."Our team has started to get the idea of what it's like to play against the game of basketball," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "That's a hard thing to master. We talk about it like it's a simple little deal, but it is a very difficult mental state to get yourself in, where you go out and it's not about the opponent, it's about how well can you play the game."Unlike their last game, a 45-point romp over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Sooners started quickly against Northern Colorado, scoring the first 11 points and leading 20-2 after less than 9½ minutes and 42-13 at halftime.The Bears went scoreless on their first 10 possessions, missing their first nine shots before Nicole Ford put them on the board about 7 minutes into the game. Northern Colorado shot 18 percent in the half.Oklahoma shot 59 percent before halftime. Coale went deep into her bench, with 11 players seeing action in the first half, but that didn't keep the Sooners from building their lead, which peaked at 49 points with 8:33 left.Oklahoma finished with a 53-30 rebounding edge, recorded assists on 25 of its 34 baskets, committed a season-low eight turnovers and shot 51.5 percent from the field."We were pretty sure with our passing," Coale said. "We were going to the right place at the right time. We made some good decisions."Paris had her double-double 29 seconds into the second half and left the game with 12:09 to go. The Sooners' other four starters had left the game by the 9½-minute mark.Paris was 9-of-11 from the field one game after tying a single-game school record with a 12-of-13 shooting outing against UAPB.Freshman Amanda Thompson came off the bench to score 12 points and grab nine rebounds for Oklahoma, while Leah Rush and Erin Higgins added 11 points each.Heather Barbour led Northern Colorado with 12 points. The Bears are 0-4 against ranked opponents since joining Division I before the 2003-04 season.
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