8:00 PM ET, February 20, 2008
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- After watching Ashley Paris' outlet pass sail directly out of bounds, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale rubbed both hands up and down her face, then folded her arms.She stood in disbelief for a few seconds, shook her head, then mouthed "wow" before looking away.Coale could have said the same thing about the second half -- for a completely different reason.Courtney Paris scored 19 of her 27 points in the second half and the Sooners (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) rallied from a dismal start to beat No. 15 Kansas State 68-65 Wednesday night."We were forced to grow up," Coale said. "We were on the road, against an experienced team who's leading the conference, who's had great success through the conference run, and we were lousy in the first half. We had to dig our way out of it. If you watched this game in the second half, it would be hard to believe there were no seniors on the floor."Oklahoma (19-5, 9-3) saw its 10-game winning streak end with a lopsided loss to Baylor on Sunday -- its second to the Bears this season -- and the effects seemed to carry over early against Kansas State.The Sooners opened the game with four straight turnovers and had eight in the first 7 1/2 minutes, causing Coale to spend most of the first half arms folded.The Sooners had 13 turnovers by halftime -- five below their season average -- with Courtney Paris getting six.But after a relatively quiet first half, the Paris sisters started to take over in the second, powering their way past the smaller Wildcats.Ashley hit a pair of shots inside to start the second half, then Courtney went to work, scoring on a pair of putbacks during a 14-3 opening run that cut Kansas State's lead to 42-41. Jenna Plumley followed with a steal and a pull-up 3-pointer to give Oklahoma its first lead.Courtney Paris finished 10-of-13 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds for her 85th straight double-double. Twin sister Ashley had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Danielle Robinson added 12 points for Oklahoma, which shot 51 percent for its 23rd straight win against the Big 12 North and fifth straight against Kansas State."We knew with our size difference that we just had to get it in there," said Plumley, who kept the Sooners calm in the second half after getting nine stitches above her left eye in the first. "Courtney did really well finishing at the rim and it was good when she brought that energy."Kansas State (18-7, 10-2) had all the energy early, jumping out to a 10-point first-half lead by working around the Paris sisters with up-fakes and crisp cuts.Shalee Lehning did most of the damage, slashing through Oklahoma's defense while dropping six assists. Ashley Sweat was the biggest beneficiary, scoring 15 points by halftime, hitting 6-of-7 from the free-throw line after getting behind Oklahoma's big front line.But after disrupting the Paris twins at both ends early, the Wildcats couldn't stop them late.Part of it was Oklahoma adjusting to Kansas State's multiple defensive looks by working different angles and passes into the post. It didn't help that the 6-foot-4 twins were much more aggressive in the second half, bulling in for rebounds and looking for their shots instead of kicking the ball out.Courtney and Ashley combined for 29 points and 11 rebounds in the second half, outscoring the Wildcats by two points by themselves."They're both definitely good players and they have a great sense of where each other is," said Kansas State's Marlies Gipson, who spent most of the game covering Courtney Paris. "They have great hands but it comes down to the team and if a shot goes up, you've got to find them both and push them out as far as you can."Then there was Kansas State's shooting.Everything that fell in the first half seemed to clang off the rim in the second, with Kansas State missing 13 of its first 17 shots to fall behind by six. The Wildcats shot 8-for-27 in the second and were shot 7-of-26 on 3-pointers overall, making a handful shots down the stretch just to make it close.Kansas State pulled to 66-65 on a hard drive by Kimberly Dietz with just over a minute left, but Ashley Paris hit a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game. Kansas State missed on two 3-pointers in the closing seconds, then Courtney Paris stole the inbound pass on the Wildcats' last play.Sweat finished with 25 points, Gipson 13 and Lehning had nine assists for Kansas State, which shot 36 percent and was outscored 44-22 inside."It was a game in which it was a tale of two halves, obviously," Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. "We were very good in the first half Oklahoma struggled, and they were good in the second half and we struggled. That pretty much puts a stamp on it."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||26-51 (.510)||20-55 (.364)|
|3P Made-Attempted||3-9 (.333)||7-26 (.269)|
|FT Made-Attempted||13-15 (.867)||18-21 (.857)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|