NORMAN — No Aaryn Ellenberg, no problem.
Despite being without its leading scorer on Sunday, the No. 25 Oklahoma women's basketball team turned in one of its most efficient offensive performances of the season.
Six Sooners scored at least seven points, led by 12 from seniors Nicole Griffin and Morgan Hook, as OU cruised to a 66-35 victory over Samford at Lloyd Noble Center.
“I think we made baby steps,” said OU coach Sherri Coale, whose team shot 50 percent from the field. “We moved towards the things that we've focused on over the break. We did a really, really nice job of reversing the basketball and sharing it. That's reflected in our shooting percentage. The quality of our passing always affects the quality of our shooting and that was obvious tonight.”
Filling in for Ellenberg, who is averaging 18.3 points per game this season, was freshman guard Derica Wyatt. Making her first career start, Wyatt scored 11 points and was 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
“Going in there, I just had to keep the mindset of not having a drop off between me and Aaryn,” Wyatt said. “I had to play hard and do my part on the floor, making good passes and not turning it over. Just don't let there be a drop off with Aaryn on the bench.”
Ellenberg missed the game after suffering a concussion during practice.
OU (9-4) got off to a sluggish start, hitting just one of its first seven shots from the field. But the Sooners shot 67 percent over the final 16 minutes of the first half, outscoring Samford 32-12 over that stretch, to take a commanding 36-20 into halftime.
OU held Samford (3-9) to just 25 percent from the field and 6-for-33 from 3-point range. Shelby Campbell led the Bulldogs with 12 points.
The Sooners limited the easy looks for Samford, allowing just 10 points in the paint, which has been a point of emphasis from Coale this season.
“I felt like our attention to (clogging the paint) was much better than it has been,” Coale said. “Each time you get blown by and a teammate is there to keep the ball out of the lane, you feel better about the way you play defense. You have a higher degree of trust for the people around you. That's not something that just adds up. It's a thing that multiplies quickly, so to be able to get the genesis of that this afternoon is real important for our team.”
OU will begin Big 12 Conference play with a 6:30 p.m. Thursday tip-off at Texas Tech.