NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said she likes playing a tough nonconference schedule because it can shine the light on her team's weaknesses.
“You want all your weaknesses exposed so you can have a chance to determine your strengths,” Coale said.
The Sooners host No. 5 Louisville — a Final Four team last season — Sunday afternoon in the Preseason WNIT Championship Game, only a few days after claiming a narrow, hard-fought victory over No. 25 Gonzaga in the semifinals.
Thursday night against the Bulldogs, Oklahoma trailed at halftime, and neither team could seem to pull away in the second half.
The Sooners managed to secure the victory in the final minutes, even as senior point guard Morgan Hook was sidelined with an apparent ankle injury. She remains a game-time decision for Sunday.
“To have that kind of play, from a mental standpoint, this early in the year is huge,” Coale said. “For us to hold it together through the final few minutes with our starting point guard on the bench, huge.”
One area where Coale said her team must improve is in its offensive rebounding. Oklahoma went more than 14 minutes into the second half without collecting an offensive board.
“They attack the offensive glass,” Coale said of Louisville. “Our inability to stop that was exposed against Gonzaga, so we've gotta improve on that quickly.”
Louisville returns four starters from last year's squad, which reached the Final Four by stunning superstar Brittney Griner and No. 1-ranked Baylor in the Sweet 16.
The Cardinals beat LSU 88-67 Thursday to advance to the Preseason WNIT title game.
“It gives you something to measure yourself by at the beginning,” senior guard Aaryn Ellenberg said of the tough schedule. “It's early. Everybody's still learning. We've got a lot more things to get better at, but it gives you an early test of what your team is like.”