NORMAN — As disappointed as Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale was in her team's first-half effort Sunday afternoon, she was equally proud of its resolve in the second.
Still, the No. 17 Sooners couldn't fully recover from their slow start and lost 94-85 to No. 2 Duke inside Lloyd Noble Center.
“Just did not start the game emphatically,” Coale said. “We didn't play with confidence and we didn't play with bravado. It's hard to say why that happened.”
The Sooners (6-3) hung tough with the Blue Devils for the first few minutes of Sunday's game, trailing only 18-17 after senior point guard Morgan Hook scored with 9:42 remaining in the first half.
But from that point until halftime, Duke (10-0) outscored OU by 18 points and carried a 46-27 lead into the break.
The Sooners connected on only 37.5 percent of their first-half field-goal attempts, and recorded a staggering 15 turnovers.
“We kicked it off our foot; we threw it directly to them; we sailed it out of bounds,” Coale said. “It was just contagious and that's when you need the leaders to step in and calm the waters and want the ball.”
Oklahoma cut into Duke's lead, but never reduced the deficit to less than nine points after halftime. In the second half, OU shot drastically better and committed only six turnovers.
Hook and fellow senior guard Aaryn Ellenberg combined for eight turnovers in the first half.
“As two leaders and seniors on the team, that cannot happen,” Hook said. “It is our responsibility to be the leaders and to calm the storm, and as the point guard I did not do a good job in the first half of that at all.”
Ellenberg and Hook led the Sooners with 28 and 24 points, respectively, season-highs for both seniors.
Duke senior Tricia Liston led Duke with 23 points, and sophomore Alexis Jones added 20 and seven rebounds.
Oklahoma returns to action next Sunday at 2 p.m. in a home matchup with Maryland Eastern Shore.