NORMAN — Oklahoma's one healthy co-captain expressed disappointment in her team's lackluster effort Sunday.
“That's the number one thing we said, was to go out there and play hard and the game will come to us,” said junior guard Morgan Hook. “I don't think as a team or as a whole we played as hard as we could have.”
Oklahoma lost 76-63 to Vanderbilt inside Lloyd Noble Center, where the Sooners' improved second-half effort wasn't enough to overcome their staggering 15 first-half turnovers.
OU (8-2) trailed by 10 at the break, then came out of halftime with turnovers on its first two possessions.
Oklahoma pulled within nine of Vanderbilt twice after halftime — each coming on back-to-back jumpers by junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg with under four minutes left — but the Commodores increased their lead to 18 in short time.
Ellenberg led the Sooners with a game-high 21 points.
With just two games remaining before Big 12 play opens, the Sooners' active roster has withered to eight players following four season- or career-ending injuries since the preseason.
Two of the afflicted are Hook's co-captains — a lingering back injury forced junior Lyndsey Cloman to end her career before the season's first game, and senior guard Whitney Hand tore her ACL in last week's North Texas win.
“Our problem in the first half, despite the fact that we turned it over repeatedly, was that we just weren't guarding,” said OU coach Sherri Coale. “We were trying to get back in the zone and just standing there.
“That is a reflection of just being caught up in the emotion of it all, trying to find your way out of it. ... That will get better. Over the holiday, as they have time on the floor together, it will improve dramatically.”
Senior forward Joanna McFarland, who grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, was one Sooner whose fervent effort Sunday was evident throughout the entire game.
McFarland missed six games last season with a broken jaw, and said it would be “disrespectful” to play with anything less full effort.
“This is my senior year, and I love these girls,” McFarland said. “We have four people who can't play. So, every minute that you're on the court, you're representing them.
“To not play your heart out is disrespectful, and I didn't want to disrespect my teammates.”
Oklahoma, which next plays Thursday at home against UC-Riverside, turned the ball over 20 times Sunday, resulting in 23 Vanderbilt points.
Four Commodores scored in double figures. Christina Foggie had 17 points to lead Vanderbilt (8-3).
“You just go in the gym every day and try to get better,” Coale said when asked how the team can improve with its Jan. 2 conference opener looming.
“You pay attention to the things you can control. ... There are lots of things that we can control that we didn't do very well today.”