NORMAN — The Oklahoma women's basketball team is all too familiar with adversity. Like they have during much of the season so far, the Sooners faced it again during Sunday's 68-55 win over Marist at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Over the course of the last month, Oklahoma has lost three key contributors to injury. Sophomore Kaylon Williams (Achilles) and freshman Maddie Manning (ACL) are out for the season, while junior Lyndsey Cloman's basketball career is over because of a back issue.
On Sunday, the adversity came in the form of an upset-minded Marist team that forced 11 first-half turnovers and had 12th-ranked Oklahoma on the ropes for much of the afternoon.
The turning point came on an incredible hustle play from Whitney Hand with seven minutes remaining in the game and the Sooners leading 53-50.
Hand dove out of bounds, making an overhead pass to Morgan Hook, who finished the play with a midrange jump shot. The play sparked a 14-2 run for the Sooners that would put the Red Foxes away for good.
“There's always moments that if you can grab them and bottle them you can change the destiny of the game,” Sooners coach Sherri Coale said. “I thought Whitney's save that Morgan converted really gave us the ignition that we needed.”
Hand was everywhere for the Sooners as the senior guard finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks.
Hook, who finished with 16 points, said of the play, “it just gave us a lot of momentum. We practice that all the time and to see your teammate dive out of bounds like that you just want to do something for her.”
Junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg led all scorers with 18 points, with 11 of those coming in the second half.
Marist was led by a strong performance from junior forward Emma O'Connor, who had 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Oklahoma's (7-1) next game is a home contest against North Texas at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Hand posted a double-double on Sunday with 12 points and 13 rebounds. It was the sixth of her career and first this season. “I just take what I can get. I'm playing in a position now where I'm getting a lot of rebounds, but the guards coming in and getting rebounds is definitely a big deal,” Hand said.
MARIST COACH A BIG SOONER FOOTBALL FAN
Marist head coach Brian Giorgis has been outspoken about his love for Oklahoma football. On Sunday, he met former Sooner legend Jimbo Elrod.
“Most people know that I've been an OU football fan since 1966, and Jimbo Elrod was my all-time favorite player,” Giorgis said. “He played back when I was in college and I used to get The Daily Oklahoman delivered to Cortland, New York.”
Giorgis even had an opinion on where he hoped to see the Sooners in a bowl game: “Let's hope for a Sugar Bowl.”