Sooners topple Cowgirls

OU center Nicole Griffin

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners have struck first in Bedlam 2013 edition, knocking off in-state rival Oklahoma State 80-61 Sunday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.

"We beat a really good basketball team today and I was proud of our guys' poise," said OU head coach Sherri Coale. "At the start of the night we didn't shoot it very well, obviously, but we didn't let it affect our energy level. We didn't let it affect our confidence. We continued to defend and rebound. This team is growing."

As Coale alluded to, they had to overcome a somewhat sluggish start to come up with the end result they did..

The Cowgirls leapt out to an early 8-3 advantage and had the lead for the first 10:36 of the contest until OU finally tied things up at 16.

OU still didn't take the lead for its first time, however, until nearly the four-minute mark of the first half when it was 25-24.

Teams traded the lead back and forth at that point until intermission, when the Sooners went in with a 31-28 edge.

The back-and-forth battle would turn hugely one-sided in the second 20 minutes.

Within the first five minutes, the Sooners built their first double digit lead of the day and it only increased from there, thanks to a 21-point outburst by center Nicole Griffin.

"I think it's progressing and I'm continuing to work on it," Griffin said of her jump hook, which was lethal in this outing. "The closer I am to the basket, I don't have to shoot it as hard. It's more wrist than when you're further away."

Double-doubles from guard Sharane Campbell, 15 points and 12 rebounds, and forward Joanna McFarland, 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, didn't hurt either.

"As I've said repeatedly about Sharane, she is conscientious," Coale said. "That's the type of person she is. That's part of her character. And there's an element of her game that is not where it should be. Just like repeatedly working on her left hand, she's going to work at it until it becomes a strength. And that's something we've pointed out. Boy we miss Whitney [Hand], getting all those offensive rebounds from the perimeter. Who can do that? Well, she can do that. And she focused on it today. And it felt like she got more than four offensive boards, it really did."

But overall, they have 12 rebounds. You know Jo's [McFarland] going to get 15. How awesome is that? To have a player on your team where you can go, 'I know she's going to get 15 boards.' What? I haven't felt like that since Courtney Paris was here. So that's a luxury. I'm not taking that for granted."

Star guard Aaryn Ellenberg added 17 points.

In Oklahoma State's losing effort, four players also finished in double figures, led by center Kendra Suttles' 17.

Forward Liz Donohoe, guard Brittney Martin and forward Toni Young added 13, 12 and 10, respectively.

With the victory, OU keeps pace for second place in the Big 12 Conference race, a half game ahead of both Iowa State and Texas Tech with its 8-3 mark.

"Well, our team is still evolving," Coale said. "and I keep saying that to you guys that have to talk to me every day."

The Sooners move to 18-5 overall and await another opportunity to continue evolving at 7 p.m. CT Thursday with a meeting against Iowa State at Lloyd Noble Center.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.

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