DALLAS — When the 17-minute mark of the second half rolled around, Oklahoma found itself in nearly the same position it was in fewer than 24 hours ago — down by more than 20 points on the Big 12 Tournament floor.
Against West Virginia, the Sooners staged an epic rally, overcoming the largest deficit by a winner of a conference tournament game.
But that wasn't possible against such a crisp Iowa State squad in the semifinals, with the Cyclones dominating nearly every facet of an easy 79-60 rout of the Sooners at American Airlines Center to advance to Monday night's championship game against No. 1 Baylor.
“They have a front line that absolutely annihilated us,” coach Sherri Coale said. “ … They manhandled us on the inside and had great poise on the perimeter and knocked down open looks. And we didn't do the same.
“We didn't come with the same aggression on the interior. We didn't knock down perimeter shots, open ones, the way they did.”
Here's the breakdown: Iowa State outscored OU 42-22 in the paint. The Sooners lost the rebounding battle 49-28, including a 16-9 deficit on the offensive boards. And OU shot just 35.5 percent, including a 7-of-24 mark from 3-point distance.
Perhaps most challenging for the Sooners was the Cyclones' balance. Guards Nikki Moody and Brynn Williamson combined for 15 assists and two turnovers. And posts Hallie Christofferson, Chelsea Poppens and Anna Prins combined for 56 points, including a career-best 32 from Prins.
“Their post players are just really strong, and they have a good mind about position,” OU's Joanna McFarland said. “If you let them get deep, they're going to score. That's the thing, you have to do your work early … they just really had that in their mind to be aggressive and get us deep.”
OU stayed with the Cyclones for the game's opening minutes, with a 3-pointer by McFarland giving the Sooners a 10-7 lead at the 16:22 mark. But then OU went nearly eight minutes without scoring, allowing Iowa State to build a 14-point advantage.