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World-beater: Paris scores 43, grabs 25 rebounds in OU win

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale scheduled a
game at the Cox Convention Center to help the Sooners become
familiar with the facility hosting this season's Big 12 Conference
women's basketball tournament.

It's safe to say Courtney Paris felt right at home. Paris scored
a school-record 43 points and grabbed 25 rebounds, helping
Oklahoma (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today; No. 8 AP) bounce back from its only loss with an 80-58 win over New
Mexico on Saturday.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore All-America center had her way against
the Lobos, breaking the Oklahoma single-game scoring record of 40
points, set by Phylesha Whaley against Arkansas in March 1999.
Paris matched the second-best rebounding game in school history,
missing her own school record by one. She has six of the top nine
rebounding games ever at Oklahoma.

"Courtney's performance was phenomenal," Coale said. "I
remember Wayman Tisdale played in this building and had a pretty
impressive performance back in the day. That's what was in the back
of my head when she was putting on a show."

Tisdale scored a school-record 61 points in the same building --
then known as the Myriad -- against Texas-San Antonio on Dec. 28,
1983.

Paris' 43-point outing was the highest in NCAA Division I this
season. The previous high was 41, by Carrie Moore of Western Michigan against Detroit on Nov. 17 and Louisville's Angel McCoughtry against Eastern Illinois on Friday.

"Our first and foremost thing to do is to get the ball to
Courtney all the time," Oklahoma guard Jenna Plumley said. "She's
just so dominant. There's no reason why we shouldn't get her the
ball."

Paris joined Baylor's Danielle Crockrum as the only Big 12
Conference player ever to have at least 40 points and 20 rebounds
in a game. Crockrum did it against Texas A&M in January 2001. Paris
also set a Big 12 record for field goals in a game, finishing
20-of-26.

"We just couldn't stop her," New Mexico coach Don Flanagan
said. "She dictated what we did defensively. She fouled out two of
our post players. She does a great job posting up and she shoots an
extremely high percentage. I thought defensively we did pretty well
against their other players ... but we couldn't stop Courtney."

Oklahoma (10-1) has beaten New Mexico (10-3) three times in the
last two seasons, this time ending the Lobos' nine-game winning
streak. Oklahoma had had its 23-game regular-season winning streak
snapped by a loss to Ohio State on Dec. 20.

Paris had 20 points and 13 rebounds while staking Oklahoma to a
34-24 halftime lead and scored 17 of the Sooners' first 19 points
to start the second half. She passed Whaley's record with 5:52
left.

Paris played a season-high 37 minutes as the Sooners' two other
primary frontline players, Leah Rush and Ashley Paris, spent much
of the game in foul trouble.

"We were in a situation where the coaches told me I needed to
step up," Courtney Paris said. "Our team needed to step up and
not be satisfied. I realized after the Ohio State game that getting
your averages and just doing what you do sometimes is just not good
enough."

Paris completed her 39th straight double-double with 4:18 left
in the first half, the second time this season she's had a
first-half double-double and the sixth time in her career.

Paris could've scored more points than the Lobos in the half had
she not gone 2-of-8 from the free-throw line. She shot 3-of-10 for
the game.

Oklahoma never trailed. The Sooners held New Mexico scoreless
for more than five minutes while building a 16-8 lead, and after
the Lobos pulled within 18-16, Oklahoma used a 14-4 spurt to extend
its margin to 32-20.

In the second half, Oklahoma scored the first 10 points to go
ahead 46-26. New Mexico came within 51-43 with 12:35 left, but a
14-2 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Plumley and Erin Higgins,
put the Sooners back up by 20.

Plumley, a freshman, was the only other Oklahoma player to score
in double figures, coming off the bench to finish with 11 points.
That didn't bother Coale.

"It's a reflection of a pretty smart bunch of kids," she said.
"If you find something that works, you go to it and you go to it
and you go to it until they figure out a way to stop it."

Amanda Thompson added 11 rebounds for Oklahoma, which
outrebounded the Lobos 53-31. New Mexico entered the game with a
plus-5.2-rebound margin this season.

Dionne Marsh led New Mexico with 20 points, but went 5-of-19
from the field as the Lobos shot 26.2 percent. Julie Briody added
13 points and Katie Montgomery scored 10 for the Lobos.