AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The regular season is history. The Oklahoma Sooners now want to make some in the postseason.
The No. 3 Sooners thumped No. 15 Texas 74-62 on Sunday, sending the Big 12 regular season champions into the conference tournament aiming to win it and secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
From there, who knows? All-American center Courtney Paris earlier in the week already promised a national title. The Sooners haven't been to the Final Four since 2002.
"This is not the end of the road," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "They know there are greater things out there."
Coale also said Sunday she expects to have freshman guard Whitney Hand available for the postseason. Hand started 26 games and was the team's top 3-point shooter before breaking her left index figure on Feb. 21.
The Sooners (27-3, 15-1) certainly looked like national title contenders in the first half when they swamped Texas with 62 percent shooting and took a 40-21 lead into halftime. The lead got as big as 27 in the second before the Longhorns rallied to get within 11 in the final minute.
The game had been settled long before that. Danielle Robinson led the Sooners with 17 points and Paris and Amanda Thompson each scored 16. Paris had just six rebounds, missing her 124th career double-double in 130 games.
Coale liked seeing other players carry the load.
"We're playing through Courtney instead of to her," Coale said.
Ashley Lindsey scored 16 to lead the Longhorns, who appear to be on a full-blown tailspin. Unlike last season, when a late five-game winning streak helped them get into the NCAA tournament, Texas (20-10, 8-8) has lost five of its last six.
Even with the late flop, Texas coach Gail Goestenkors has said she's confident her team will get into the NCAA tournament.
On Sunday, Paris had eight points in the first half, but it was Robinson and Thompson doing most of the damage with nine points each and disrupting the Longhorns offense on the perimeter.
"Sometimes they were guarding me, sometimes they weren't," Thompson said.
Texas, which honored four seniors before their last home game, seemed more inclined to send them out with a series of bloopers instead of highlights. A backcourt violation, a technical foul whistled against Goestenkors and a pass that bounced off freshman Ashleigh Fontenette's face to start a Sooners fast break layup, were just a few of the miscues in the first half.
Oklahoma kept building the lead early in the second and Paris might have reached double-digits in rebounding if the Sooners would have missed more shots. Even when they tailed off late, the Sooners still shot 50 percent in the second half.
With the Longhorns still focused on stopping Paris, Robinson hit an early jumper before another Texas turnover led to Nyeshia Stevenson's 3-pointer. Paris grabbed two rebounds for putbacks and the Sooners led 46-25.
"They're so much more than one player. I thought we did a good job on Courtney overall, but their other players stepped up," Goestenkors said.
Another basket by Paris and a 3-pointer by Jenny Vining made it 55-28 with just under 14 minutes left.
When Texas started cutting out the miscues — just five turnovers in the second half — the Longhorns rallied with a 19-6 run that got the Oklahoma lead under 15 with about six minutes to play. Kat Nash hit two 3-pointers in the run.
"Texas outworked us in the second half," Coale said. "Our experience and maturity enabled us to steady the ship."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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