NORMAN — Sherri Coale shook her head and bit her lip.
The Oklahoma women's basketball coach clearly was unhappy with the first half performance — and the difficulties it led to in the second half Monday night — as the Sooners fell to No. 7-ranked Baylor 81-67 in front of an estimated 3,390 fans at Lloyd Noble Center.
“There was never any rhythm in the game whatsoever. We got discombobulated at the beginning with ...,” Coale said, cutting herself off. “We just got discombobulated at the beginning and never really were able to get any rhythm.”
The Sooners (14-9, 5-5 Big 12) play at Kansas at 2 p.m. Sunday.
By halftime, three Sooners starters had three fouls, OU was getting out-rebounded by 11 and the Bears led by as many as 19 points.
By the time four minutes had passed in the second half, Aaryn Ellenberg and Sharane Campbell, the Sooners two leading scorers, had fouled out.
Shortly after Ellenberg left, Oklahoma trailed by 18.
But with a patchwork lineup that at times featured three freshmen, the Sooners made a push.
Morgan Hook's 3-pointer with about 11 minutes remaining capped a 15-4 run and cut the Bears lead to just seven, 57-50, but Oklahoma could never get closer.
“It was the strangest game I've ever been a part of,” Coale said. “I was really proud of our fight in the second half. I thought the freshmen came in and fought and did some really, really good things in some difficult circumstances and they kept their head and showed a lot of grit.”
Bears coach Kim Mulkey said her team didn't let up in the second half, although the lead dissipated.
“You don't ever relax when you're on the road and you don't ever relax in a conference game and you sure don't want to relax when you've got as many freshmen as we do,” Mulkey said.
The Sooners turned the ball over four times in the final 11 minutes, They failed to force a turnover on the other end.
In Baylor's first season of the post-Brittney Griner era, senior guard Odyssey Sims is on pace to break the league's scoring record set by Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley with 26.7 points per game in 2010.
Sims had 27 points, dropping her season average to 30 points per game.
“It would be hard for me to believe there's a guard in the country that gets guarded like she does night-in and night-out,” Mulkey said. “She just has really kept her composure being guarded the way she has been guarded.”
Freshman Nina Davis scored 19 points and had 14 rebounds for the Bears (19-3, 9-1) while another freshman, Imani Wright, added 15 points.
Hook led the Sooners with 18 points. Freshman Gioya Carter equaled her season high with 12 points.
After the disastrous first half on the boards, the Sooners equaled Baylor's rebounding numbers after halftime.
“I'm proud of the ones that came in and stepped up,” Hook said. “When our two best scorers went out of the game, we didn't cower down and lose by 40. We came back and kept fighting.”