Sure, Oklahoma was looking forward to having a potential opportunity for a trip to Oklahoma City for the Sweet Sixteen when the NCAA brackets were released a week ago.
And needless to say, the chance to avenge an earlier loss to UCLA was something that added to that excitement.
But there was something else that the Sooners kept talking about.
“We talked about having one more week together,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “These guys are so good together. The way they are together is the way they are on the floor. There's a connectedness. They want to be together and spend time together.”
Coale believes her team drew energy from the intensity during its 85-72 win over UCLA on Monday night from Sharane Campbell, who had 19 points.
“Sharane's a very demonstrative basketball player,” Coale said. “When she gets an and-1 like she did in the first half, she celebrates. She plays with a great deal of emotion and that can't help but be contagious. You could see it go from one player to another.”
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEXT
The Sooners will face Tennessee in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday in Oklahoma City.
The Volunteers used a 13-0 run in the second half to pull away from Creighton during a 68-52 win Monday night in Knoxville.
Tennessee is 26-7 under coach Holly Warlick.
“Growing up they were the only team I ever got to see on TV, so as a junior high and high school student that was the Mecca of college basketball,” Coale said. “Holly has done a fantastic job with them this year and we're honored to be playing them.”
“It's very, very exciting to be going home,” Joanna McFarland said. “I think we'd be just as excited if we were playing them in Tennessee with the history and the legacy of Tennessee.”
SOONERS OVERCOME SIZE DISADVANTAGE
Even with the 6-foot-3 McFarland in the lineup, Oklahoma didn't have the overall size advantage particularly at guard compared to UCLA.
Although the Bruins won the rebounding battle 50-37 overall, they grabbed just three more defensive rebounds than the Sooners because of another memorable effort from McFarland. After grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds in a 78-73 win over Central Michigan on Saturday, she had 16 on Monday.
“They did focus on (rebounding) even though the numbers were still a little silly,” Coale said. “I thought we battled better on the boards than we did at our place.”