Prior to Saturday night, no team in the history of the women's Big 12 basketball tournament had ever been down 22 points in a game and come back to win it. This is no longer the case as the Oklahoma women pulled off an improbable and historic 65-64 win over West Virginia in the Big 12 quarterfinals.
At halftime the Sooners were down 19 points and coming off an all too familiar stretch of play which saw them go an extended period of time without scoring and brutally cold shooting. It's been a recurring problem at different times this season and it appeared as though it was happening again at an inopportune time. One might even say the Sooners had just played their worst half of basketball this entire season. Then the second half started.
After an early West Virginia mini-run, the Sooners started the process of chipping away at the deficit. Starting at the 17:15 mark, Oklahoma would use the next twelve minutes to go on a 30-7 run and take a 59-58 lead in the game. Some timely shooting and hard-nosed defense helped the Sooners pull of the incredible comeback.
Over the last five minutes, there wasn't much scoring but no team managed more than a two point lead. Oklahoma had possession with just 26 seconds remaining in a game tied at 64-64. Following a Sherri Coale timeout, Morgan Hook dribbling on the perimeter would find a wide open Sharane Campbell who had been forgotten by the WVU defense. She would wind up taking a very hard foul attempting a game winning layup, which would send her to the line with a chance to give the Sooners a lead.
She missed her first attempt, but calmly drained the second to give her team a 65-64 lead with only five seconds left to play. West Virginia inbounded the ball, raced down the court, and found an open Bria Holmes in the corner for a potential game winning three pointer. Alas, that shot would not fall and that miss would secure Oklahoma's place in Big 12 tournament history.
It was a true team effort in this one as Oklahoma did not have a single player with more than sixteen points. That player was Nicole Griffin who also added four rebounds, three blocks, and one steal. The aforementioned Campbell finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in a game which saw her miss all seven of her three point attempts and continually roughed up physically.
Oklahoma's leading scorer, Aaryn Ellenberg, struggled with her shot for most of the night but eventually put in 12 points, none bigger than the two late on an in-bounds jump pass which Coale described as one of her favorite plays in the game.
"You have to have a kid that does something extraordinary, who just makes a play," Coale said, thinking of her junior shooting guard. "We use that term in sports all the time, but there's a lot of reality to it. You have to have a kid who can go make a play."
Joanna McFarland was just two points away from her seemingly now customary double-double finishing with eight points and 13 rebounds. The Sooners also got some important and somewhat rare bench production from a true freshman in Nicole Kornet and her nine points.
With the win, the Sooners advance to Sunday's semifinals where they will face Iowa State at 3:30 p.m. (CST). The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net.