NORMAN — Alyssia Brewer was expected to provide an inside presence for UCLA. She proved that to be correct Wednesday night, helping the Bruins upset No. 11-ranked Oklahoma 86-80 before 4,184 fans at Lloyd Noble Center.
The two-time Oklahoman Super 5 selection — and 2007-08 Oklahoman Player of the Year — from Sapulpa had 15 points and a game-high 16 rebounds to counter a solid 3-point attack by the Sooners' Aaryn Ellenberg.
Brewer, who played high school basketball at Sapulpa, spent three seasons at Tennessee under legendary coach Pat Summitt. She transferred to UCLA for her senior season and has helped the unranked Bruins to a 2-0 start.
Every bit of Brewer's points, boards and physicality were needed. While UCLA punished the Sooners inside, Ellenburg was hot from 3-point territory, hitting 7 of 9 attempts. Six of Ellenburg's treys were in the first half, but the Bruins still managed to lead 37-36 at halftime.
“Had Aaryn not shot (six) threes, we would have been down by 40,” OU senior Whitney Hand said. “Then she cooled off, and it took her transition away, so we obviously couldn't score.”
Ellenburg sinking just one 3-pointer in the second half, coupled with the Sooners losing on offensive rebounds, ultimately led to OU's demise in its home opener.
Brewer and Atonye Nyingifa each had seven rebounds on the Sooners' end. For the game, OU was out-rebounded 56-34.
“If that's the way the game's going to be played, then we have to fight back and be just as physical as they're being,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “I didn't think we responded in the right way. You don't beat anybody when you give up 24 offensive rebounds. It's just a number that's unheard of.”
Ellenberg finished with a game-high 24 points. She added two rebounds, three assists and one steal. But the Bruins countered with Brewer and Nyingifa (10 total rebounds) and Markel Walker, who finished with a team-best 16 points.
Oklahoma tries to get back on track at 2 p.m. Sunday against Saint Louis in Lloyd Noble Center.
Until then, Coale and the Sooners will have to stew over UCLA's dominance in the paint, where the Bruins outscored OU 46-24.
“I'm disappointed with our effort and our response to the physical play,” Coale said. “You can't let them knock you down, roll around out of bounds and wonder why it happened. You have to be tougher. Throw them out of the way. Respond.
“It happened in post. It happened on the wings. It happened with the ballhandler and, obviously, it happened rebounding. We have to be tougher.”