The Oklahoma Sooners women's basketball team returned to the Lloyd Noble Center for the last time this calendar year to face Kansas in their Big 12 opener last night and they have to feel good about their team heading into 2016. The Sooners defeated the Jayhawks, 67-44 in what was a low scoring affair before the Sooners scored 21 fourth quarter points. They held Kansas to under 10 points in the first and fourth quarters and held their lead all the way through the game. Kaylon Williams led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds, including five on offense. Dericka Wyatt had 14 points and was 4/7 from three point range. Gabbi Ortiz also had a long three during a 30-11 run in the second half that put the game away for good.
Making her first appearance of the season after sitting out with an injury, Gioya Carter returned to the Lloyd Noble Center and was met with cheers and applause from the whole crowd when she entered the game. She responded by grabbing a rebound and taking it all the way down the court for a layup early on in the game. She had two rebounds, an assist, and a steal to cap off her return. The junior has started 44 games for the Sooners in the past two seasons and brings a lot of experience to a team that has just one senior on the roster.
That senior, by the way, is Kaylon Williams and she's having a really good season. After starting her freshman season in 16 games, she missed out her entire second year with a torn Achilles’ tendon then became the leading scorer off the bench that following season. Her junior year she played and started every single game and averaged 12 points and six rebounds a game. This year, she's averaging nearly 15 points per contest and led the Sooners to a 10-2 record this calendar year.
Oklahoma was 6-5 at this point last season and they finished the year 21-12 after a second round loss to Stanford. This year they are looking a lot better heading into January. The No. 18th ranked Sooners should be aiming for a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight run at this point. They certainly have the capability, but a tough conference schedule awaits them. Kansas is the only Big 12 team with a losing record right now, and the Jayhawks are the only team in the Big 12 who does not currently have at least a .750 winning percentage. However, the Sooners should be liking their chances to win a lot of Big 12 games this season.
Their next game is this Sunday on the road against Baylor, who was knocked off by Oklahoma State last night in their first loss of the season. Playing an angry Baylor team on the road isn't really an ideal way to start off 2016, but the high level of competition should give them a benchmark as to where they are at heading into the thick of conference play.