3:05 PM ET, January 6, 2007
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- There would be no rest for Oklahoma's Courtney Paris in the second half Saturday.To beat Nebraska 77-69, the Sooners (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) needed everything the All-America center could give them in the final 20 minutes.Paris, who played only 9 minutes the first half after picking up two quick fouls, finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds for her 41st straight double-double."The first half, everything that could possibly go wrong for us, it seemed like that's what happened. And we were only down by two," Paris said. "Even in our worst situation we're going to find a way to win."Oklahoma (12-1, 2-0 Big 12) won its 21st straight conference game and posted its 15th consecutive win away from Norman, Okla. Nebraska (13-3, 1-1) lost for the first time in eight games.Paris got support from Kendra Moore, who had a career-high 18 points, and Chelsi Welch, who made all three of her 3s and finished with 14.The Sooners trailed 43-35 early in the second half, but took the lead for good, 55-53, when Paris scored inside with 8:57 left."We were fortunate, but we were also really good in the final 11, 12 minutes of the game," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "Our experience showed, our senior leadership showed, and we had great contributions from our bench. We needed a lot of contributions from the bench, obviously, because of the foul situation in the first half."Kelsey Griffin had 22 points and Kiera Hardy 18 to lead Nebraska.The Huskers had chances to tie or lead late. After Paris was called for traveling, Hardy missed a 3-pointer with 1:34 left. Paris got the rebound, and Leah Rush made a turnaround shot in the lane to make it 69-65.Griffin's two free throws with 59 seconds left pulled Nebraska within 69-67 and put the Devaney Center crowd on its feet.But Paris, a 55-percent foul shooter, hit two free throws with 47 seconds left to make it 71-67.Paris then blocked a Griffin shot underneath the basket, and Nebraska could get no closer."I think they're a better team than No. 8," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "I think Oklahoma will be a top-five team this season. We went 1-for-17 from the 3-point line and shot (a season-low) 31 percent from the field and almost beat them, so the silver lining is that we can compete against anybody in this league. And if we shoot a little better today, we win."Oklahoma found itself down 33-31 at the half after committing 10 turnovers and getting outscored 17-4 at the free-throw line.The Sooners put the game in Paris' hands in the second half."She totally dominated the game," Coale said. "Other guys made plays, too. That kept them from keeping three people standing around Courtney when Chelsi is making 3s and Kendra is knocking down shots."Moore matched her season-high of six points in the first half, then scored 12 points in the second to surpass her previous best of 14 against Baylor last season. She played a season-high 25 minutes."She's ready if she plays three minutes, she's ready if she plays 15 and she's ready if she needs to go as long as she does tonight," Coale said. "She's a scoring point guard, so this was scripted for her to be successful."Nebraska played loose defense on Moore and starting point guard Britney Brown, putting its resources into defending Paris."That opened the door for us to shoot," Moore said. "We're ready for that. That's what teams in the past have done to both Britney and I. I came out and did what I had to do."
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