A few Oklahoma women’s basketball players put their faces into their hands as the fourth quarter waned. An opposing shot went in. The game had slipped away.
The year had slipped away.
Texas Tech closed with a fury in a record-breaking 104-84 victory that ended OU’s season Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Sooners got as close as four points late in the third quarter, but were lapped during the Big 12 tournament quarterfinal’s finish.
Ana Llanusa scored 20 points while Madi Williams and Taylor Robertson each added 19 for the Sooners. But Tech’s Brittany Brewer was too much — she scored 40 points off 16-of-23 shooting to go with 15 rebounds.
Texas Tech set a tournament record for points scored in a single game and scored the second-most points against the Sooners this season. OU’s 8-2 run out of halftime cut the lead to 53-51 at 8:09 in the third quarter, but things went downhill from there.
“Us not getting rebounds,” Llanusa said of the turning point. “They got their boards and went back up and got second shots … And then we got a little sped up on offense. Missed a number of different layups.”
OU (8-22) missed its last nine shots in the third, several from close range, and finished the season with its worst record since 1996-97. The loss officially broke OU’s streak of 19 consecutive NCAA tournament berths.
The Sooners started three freshmen and two sophomores, a youthful lineup that became the norm this year. They’d been optimistic about a potential run through the league tourney, but Friday was a snapshot of the season in many ways.
OU fluctuated from potent to lukewarm offensively and let the Red Raiders shoot 59 percent from the field. Asked to reflect on the year, OU coach Sherri Coale lamented her team’s youth, lack of size and ability to defend.
Brewer, a 6-foot-5 junior, took advantage of all three.
She blocked four shots, two of which she swatted away before clasping the ball between two hands. Her length made a difference inside and out, where she made five 3s.
“Brit had the hot hand,” Tech guard Sydney Goodson said. “We were going to get her the ball. We could hear the coach on the side saying ‘give it to Brittany!’”
The teams played each other for the second time this week after the Red Raiders’ 88-82 victory Tuesday in Lubbock, Texas. OU trailed by 20 or more in both contests.
Friday, Tech (14-16) took a 51-43 lead into halftime behind 61 percent shooting from the field and five 3-pointers. OU wasn’t far behind at 55 percent, but allowed Brewer get loose for 21 early points.
She knocked down two treys and Tech scored 12 points off OU turnovers. The Sooners missed six of their last seven shots going into intermission.
Afterward, Coale, Llanusa and Williams all spoke on this season’s difficulties. For the players who hadn’t experienced this before, it was a roller coaster, Llanusa said.
Williams is a bright spot moving forward. And the freshman made a bold declaration before the Sooners left the podium and walked behind a large curtain.
“I think that this year was a great way for us to see our potential,” Williams said, “and before we leave we’re going to win a national championship. I think we’re all looking forward to that.”
NEED TO KNOW
Brewer did what she pleased. Her 16 field goals are the second-most ever in a Big 12 tournament game behind Baylor’s Brittney Griner (19) in 2012.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a game similar to this,” Brewer said.
But that overshadowed other Red Raiders who erupted. Zuri Sanders scored 25 points and Chrislyn Carr added 16.
It was more of a team effort than some realized.
“Zuri and Brittany played like juniors and seniors who are hungry and nearing the end of their career and don’t want it to be over,” Coale said. “I thought our inability to stop them, we felt [the pressure] on the offensive end.”
• Stopping size: Williams often had to guard Brewer despite a size disparity.
It was neither easy nor out of the ordinary. It’s been Williams’ chore all year.
“The whole game plan was whenever she did get hte ball inside was to dig it out,” Williams said. “I think we relied too much on our help side and we let them catch it [thinking] our help side would be there.”
• Well-conditioned: After two close final results earlier in the year — though Tech had a 23-point lead at one point Tuesday — the Red Raiders ran away with things Friday.
“The ability to keep pace,” Tech coach Marlene Stollings said. “We thought if we could get into the fourth quarter with the pace we wanted it would wear on them a little bit. They’re in great shape too … But we thought we could sustain it better.”
• Tip-ins: OU graduates two seniors but returns all five starters and 96 percent of its scoring. … OU had four players score over 10 points: Llanusa, Williams, Robertson and Jessi Murcer (10). … No. 8-seeds have done well in the Big 12 tournament. This is just the third time since 2012 that a No. 9-seed has advanced out of the first round.