NORMAN — Texas Tech senior Chynna Brown's 3-point bucket pulled her team within four points of No. 16 Oklahoma with five minutes left Saturday inside Lloyd Noble Center.
Aaryn Ellenberg responded by doing what she does best. The OU junior scored her team's final 13 points — half of her game-high 26 — in the game's final 3:35 as the Sooners remained unbeaten in Big 12 Conference play with a 65-55 win over Texas Tech.
“Just credit her for stepping up and making big plays,” said Texas Tech coach Kristi Curry. “I think at that point, you have to credit Oklahoma. Certainly, they were able to make big plays and big shots.
“We know that she does that very well.”
But it wasn't Ellenberg's point total that made OU coach Sherri Coale most proud; it's her continuing evolution as an all-around player, as evidenced by her zero turnovers Saturday.
“She will never get enough credit for how much she's improved; I can promise you that, because that's the way it is,” Coale said. “When you're a great player ... who goes and talks about how much better Peyton Manning got from one year to the next?
“She's always been able to make 3s. ... Now, she jumps to the ball defensively. She's in the right place. She's anticipating on the weak side. She's moving without the basketball off of penetration. She's not standing and watching. She's talking in defensive transition. She's communicating with her teammates. She's forcing herself outside of her comfort zone and becoming a great player.”
Ellenberg said her improvement as a ballhandler boils down to improved patience.
“I feel like it's been a back-and-forth thing with me,” she said. “I'll go a game, doing a good job of securing the ball and then I'll go a game and turn it over a couple times. I think it's more just being patient and composed.”
The Sooners (14-2, 4-0 Big 12) trailed 29-28 at halftime, but opened the second half on a 16-4 run, and Tech (12-4, 2-2) wasn't able to fully recover.
Texas Tech seniors Brown and Casey Morris led the Red Raiders with 11 points each.
OU senior forward Joanna McFarland was 5-of-8 shooting from the field, scoring 14 points to go with her 16 rebounds.
Oklahoma's starting five played most of the game. Senior Jasmine Hartman's 13 minutes — and one point — were the most of any of the Sooners' three bench players.
Ellenberg and junior guard Morgan Hook each played the game's entire 40 minutes.
“Some nights it's tougher than others,” Ellenberg said. “I think I did well at keeping myself composed and not letting myself get too tired at times. It was 40 minutes, but it didn't seem like it was that bad.”
Oklahoma returns to action Tuesday at Iowa State, then returns home for next Saturday's afternoon tilt with Texas.
“We've got a lot of room for growth; a lot of improvement to make,” Coale said of her team. “I love their spirit. I love the way they fight together, and their belief in one another and themselves.”