Sooner women use pressure defense to capture Bedlam win

OU’s Peyton Little (10) fights OSU’s Diana Omozee (5) for the ball during Sunday’s Bedlam game at Lloyd Noble Center.

Is there a team other than coach Sherri Coale’s Oklahoma women who can win like this?

Once again, the Sooners struggled to do anything offensively in the first half.

Once again, the Sooners, who insist they’re a good shooting team, failed to approach 40 percent.

Once again, the difference between the two halves was how-can-that-be spectacular and, because it was, OU emerged a 68-62 Bedlam victor.

“We came out so strong in the second half,” Coale said. “We were really focused and showed belief in one another, personal belief, and we did it together.”

OU’s struggles included a stretch from early in the second quarter to early in the third in which it went more than 10 minutes without a field goal. At one point, the Sooners had missed 11 of 12 3-point attempts.

The long road back began with defense. Then, eventually, the Sooners hit some shots and Bedlam was theirs.

Everybody on the court played a role, but Maddie Manning played the biggest one.

The senior guard, who Coale sat on the bench the last five minutes of the first half — “I think I get the message when I sit,” Manning said. “I want to be out there playing” — erupted for a trio of fourth-quarter 3-pointers and 18 second-half points to finish with a game-high 20.

“We needed her involved,” Coale said.

Manning was at the point of attack of the trapping press Coale ordered most of the second-half, too.

Though OU was credited with only nine steals, the pressure it exerted bothered and forced the Cowgirls into 21 turnovers in all: 10 in the first half when little was done with them, and 11 in the second when they did plenty.

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