9:00 PM ET, February 28, 2007
NORMAN, Okla. -- Courtney Paris and her Oklahoma teammates had been waiting for this kind of domination all season long.Paris scored 28 points and Chelsi Welch added a career-best 24 as the Sooners (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) earned a share of the Big 12 title Wednesday night with an 88-61 victory over Baylor (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP)."I feel like we finally clicked. We finally got what we've been searching for all year," said Paris, wearing a red T-shirt and a white hat recognizing the Sooners' title. "It was just perfect."Paris added 18 rebounds to record her 55th straight double-double and she also tied her career-high with five assists as the Sooners (23-4, 13-3 Big 12) turned a matchup of the league's two most recent champions into a rout.Oklahoma, which will share the conference title with Texas A&M, rushed to an early lead and put the game away just after halftime."I think that's the way that we anticipated playing all season long," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "It's sometimes hard to sustain that for four months. If you're going to pick a time to do it, now's the time."Bernice Mosby had 15 points to lead Baylor, which suffered the second-biggest lopsided defeat since Kim Mulkey became coach in 2000. The Bears lost 88-57 at No. 3 LSU on Jan. 30, 2006."They weren't going to be denied tonight," Mulkey said.Paris' basket off an offensive rebound ended a run of nine straight points early in the second half and gave Oklahoma a 56-36 lead. Baylor (24-6, 11-5) started the second half 1-for-7 and committed five quick turnovers to dig itself into a hole.Mosby, who had only one basket to that point, scored six points during an 8-2 response for Baylor while Paris took a brief rest. But Paris scored on the first possession after her return, and Welch pumped in nine points during a 12-0 run that put Oklahoma up 72-46.Welch hit a 3-pointer, then outran Baylor's defense for a layup in transition before Paris converted a three-point play. Welch then topped it off with four free throws."I think this is such a talented team," Oklahoma forward Leah Rush said. "When all the pieces are clicking like tonight, you're going to see a game like that."After going 19-0 against Big 12 competition last season, the Sooners struggled during a two-week stretch midway through conference play this time around -- losing three times in a four-game stretch. But they now take a five-game win streak into the Big 12 tournament, where they'll be the No. 2 seed."We've been through our ups and downs this year. We've been striving for this moment where everything just comes together -- our chemistry and our energy. I don't know how to put it," Paris said. "Finally, it felt like at the end of the game, we're all like: 'This is what we've been looking for.' This exemplifies what's right."Paris narrowly missed becoming the first Oklahoma player to score at least 30 points in three straight games. Only she and Sooners career scoring leader Phylesha Whaley have ever had back-to-back 30-point games.Paris had a shot to best Whaley, but her attempt for her first career 3-pointer caromed off the rim. She sat out the final 5:33 after Oklahoma went up by 31.Amanda Thompson added 10 points and Paris' twin, Ashley, had 10 rebounds. The Sooners outscored Baylor 32-12 in the paint and scored 23 points off 20 Bears turnovers."We finish third in the league and I think we got a pretty good rear end whipping tonight," Mulkey said. "But we aren't all that bad."Mosby was 4-for-15 and got the most support from Latara Darrett, who was benched by Mulkey in the second half after hitting three 3-pointers before halftime."We have to put this behind us. We have the Big 12 tournament to try to win and the NCAAs after that," Mosby said. "There's nothing much you can say after this loss."Oklahoma opened an early 16-7 lead with Paris established herself inside with two layups and a three-point play and then handed off to Thompson to set up her basket along the right baseline.The Sooners then heated up from long range, with Erin Higgins and Welch each hitting two of the team's five 3-pointers as Oklahoma built a 34-17 advantage. After Higgins' second 3, Baylor held Oklahoma without a basket for more than 7 minutes but was only able to cut the gap to 45-34 by halftime despite going 6-for-8 on 3-pointers in the opening half.Even that kind of shooting performance wasn't enough to keep pace with the Sooners at their peak."We've been kind of waiting on it and just staying hungry after it," Paris said. "We knew we could do it. It's just a great feeling to finally accomplish that, to win a conference championship and to know that we have so much more ahead of us."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||23-65 (.354)||30-76 (.395)|
|3P Made-Attempted||6-12 (.500)||8-20 (.400)|
|FT Made-Attempted||9-17 (.529)||20-31 (.645)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||24 (0/0)||16 (0/0)|