NORMAN — Fans inside Lloyd Noble Center stood after Saturday's game to serenade Sherri Coale with a Red River rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”
The gesture — along with Oklahoma's convincing 69-56 win over rival Texas and having nearly a full week to prepare for next Saturday's game at No. 1 Baylor — made for a cheerful 48th birthday for the OU women's basketball coach.
“It's always good to beat Texas, whether it's my birthday or not,” said Coale, who is a perfect 5-0 on her birthday — including three Red River wins — since becoming OU's coach in 1996.
“Just watching these guys have success is the best present.”
With the win, OU (15-3, 5-1 Big 12) bounced back from its first Big 12 loss Tuesday at Iowa State, which snapped a six-game win streak.
Oklahoma jumped out to a quick 14-4 lead Saturday; the Longhorns' 11-2 run pulled them within one point with around eight minutes left in the first half, but that was the closest Texas (7-10, 0-6 Big 12) would get.
The Sooners have now beaten Texas in 11 of 14 meetings, including six of the last seven in Norman and a 78-70 victory in Austin earlier this month.
Coale said she put a heavy emphasis on rebounding in practices since Tuesday, when Iowa State out-rebounded the Sooners by a 47-27 margin.
“I didn't think this was a necessarily pretty game by either team,” Coale said. “We didn't shoot it real well, but we didn't let it affect us the way it negatively affected us in Ames this week.”
Oklahoma junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg led all scorers with 22 points Saturday; junior Chassidy Fussell's 21 points led Texas scorers.
“Obviously we had to have some sort of resolve,” Ellenberg said. “We really had to make a statement for ourselves and for the other teams watching.
“We responded from the loss and we did what we had to do to take care of our business.”
Oklahoma gets a rare six-day break beginning Sunday, and it comes at an ideal time; All-America center Brittney Griner and top-ranked Baylor — which has beaten the Sooners in five straight meetings — await next Saturday at 11 a.m.
“It's an opportunity to breathe more than anything,” Coale said. “You let your body settle down; you let your mind settle down.
“I like (the break) right here because we have had enough of a taste of what's going on, and we've positioned ourselves really well. ... We're gonna be on an ascension from here on out, and this is an opportunity for us to gather ourselves and then get started on finishing this thing off right.”