Hurricanes Battle Back but Fall to Oklahoma
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Miami erased a 15-point deficit to tie Oklahoma late in the second half, but the Sooners sank their free throws late, ending the ‘Canes breakout season 88-83 Tuesday night in the women’s NCAA Tournament.
Whitney Hand scored a career-high 27 points to lead the Sooners (23-11), who will move on to the Dayton Regional two victories away from a third straight trip to the Final Four.
Shenise Johnson scored 25 points to lead Miami (28-5), including the jumper with 3:26 to go that tied it at 79-all. The Hurricanes didn’t score against until Sylvia Bullock’s basket inside with 47 seconds to play. That made it 85-81, but Hand hit two free throws with 41 seconds to go, restoring the six-point lead, and the Hurricanes’ comeback came up short.
Danielle Robinson had 18 points and 11 assists for Oklahoma. Morgan Stroman added 18 points and 14 rebounds and Riquna Williams scored 17 for Miami.
The Sooners led almost all the way after a 17-4 first-half run stretched their lead into double digits, but the Hurricanes kept chipping away by using their frenetic defense to force 18 turnovers — six more than Sooners coach Sherri Coale said would ensure victory.
After Johnson’s jumper from the baseline tied it, Robinson was fouled going to the basket and made both shots. Oklahoma rebounded a miss at the other end, and this time Robinson scored on a drive. After another miss, this one from right in front of the basket by Stroman, Robinson was fouled again after dribbling away some time, and finished an 8-for-8 night with two more.
Bullock’s basket gave the Hurricanes hope, but Hand dashed that, finishing off a night on which the Sooners’ unselfish ball-sharing contrasted Miami’s hot-potato attack.
The Sooners finished with 22 assists on 29 baskets, and hit 11 of 29 3-pointers, while Miami assisted on only half of its 32 buckets.
Oklahoma led 44-35 at halftime and 56-44 with 16 minutes to play, before Johnson’s foul-line jumper started an 11-1 run that pulled the Hurricanes within 57-55. Stefanie Yderstrom hit her third 3-pointer in the burst, and had two others in the half that went halfway down, and out.
Just as quickly as the Hurricanes closed in, the Sooners rebuilt their lead.
Hand scored, and Aaryn Ellenberg hit a 3-pointer. After Williams answered with a 3 for Miami, Hand’s two free throws and another 3 by Ellenberg gave Oklahoma a 67-58 lead.
Miami kept coming, getting two 3-pointers from Johnson, a jumper from Williams and another 3 from Yderstrom to pull within 74-70 with 8 minutes left. A basket by Joanna McFarland stretched the Sooners’ lead to six, but a 15-footer by Shanel Williams for Miami, a three-point play by Stroman that countered another 3-pointer, and Johnson’s jumper tied it.