3:00 PM ET, November 13, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma waved goodbye to a four-year starting point guard to the WNBA, then lost two team captains for the season before it even got started.When the Sooners (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) finally got onto the court, they had coach Sherri Coale talking about "basketball nirvana."Aaryn Ellenberg scored 28 points, Whitney Hand added 18 points and 10 rebounds and Oklahoma opened its season with a 117-55 victory over Sacramento State on Sunday.Ellenberg and Hand combined to hit nine of the Sooners' 11 3-pointers as the team fell two baskets shy of setting a school record for scoring in a game. Oklahoma has reached 121 points on two occasions."We all just had a really good feel for the ball today and it just went in," Ellenberg said. "There's no other way to explain it really."Oklahoma scored the first seven points of the game and had a 27-point lead by midway through the first half. The Sooners attempted 13 of their first 23 shots from behind the arc, making seven of them.Alle Moreno scored 16 points and Sadie Clements had 15 on 5-for-19 shooting for Sacramento State (0-2).The Hornets, who won only four games last season and just one in Big Sky Conference play, could never mount a challenge.Ellenberg's driving layup along the right baseline in the final minute before halftime snapped Oklahoma's scoring mark for a half, and the Sooners led 69-28 at the break after Hand's two free throws with 1.4 seconds remaining. The previous record had been 66 in a 118-75 win against Midwestern State on Jan. 16, 1984."There were several times tonight where I just had an appreciation for the beauty of the way they played offensively," Coale said. "I said before the season that this team would really be about the name on the front of the jersey and that our fans would really fall in love with them because of that."To me, that first half was just signature Oklahoma women's basketball."Coale even went as far as saying she thinks this year's team is "a little bit like" the 2002 team that's the only Sooners squad ever to reach the national championship game.Oklahoma returned to the Final Four twice with Danielle Robinson at point guard, but she departed for the WNBA after last season. Hook took over her spot and finished with 12 points and eight assists.Freshman DaShawn Harden scored 15 points and Sharane Campbell and Jelena Cerina added 11 apiece.The Sooners showed no ill effects from losing guard Jasmine Hartman and center Lyndsey Cloman, two of the team's three captains, to preseason knee injuries that will keep both out for the entire season."It just feels good. There are games when it feels like you can't get anything, and everyone's trying to do it by themselves," Hand said."When we're in rhythm like that and we're playing together, we're all rhythm players and we all love getting shots out of rhythm where we can penetrate and we can dish to each other. It's easy and it's really fun."Hand hit two more 3-pointers to start a 14-0 run early in the second half as the Sooners increased their lead to 85-31, and they led by at least 50 the rest of the way.Sacramento State started the second half by making only one of its first 13 shots and committing six turnovers in that span."Understand that it gets a lot harder from here," Coale said. "Plenty of work to do. But I like the way they feel. I like who they are together on the floor."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||18-77 (.234)||43-72 (.597)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-32 (.219)||11-23 (.478)|
|FT Made-Attempted||12-18 (.667)||20-23 (.870)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||16 (0/0)|