By Nick Snow
NORMAN, Okla. — Everybody knows to expect the unexpected when it comes to Bedlam. It’s safe to say that the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team didn’t expect a 19-point beatdown.
Led by Aaryn Ellenberg — who tallied 15 points in the second half alone and 17 points total — Oklahoma took the first round of Bedlam with a 80-61 win over the Cowgirls Sunday at the Lloyd Noble Center.
“We played pretty well for 17 minutes, then we had a little adversity and we did not handle adversity,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “That’s what disappoints me about our basketball team. We we’re right in the game... but we didn’t handle that adversity well.
“We missed five or six layups. We were right at the rim and had some opportunities to make shots. We maybe saw somebody out of the corner of our eye or whatever, but when you play a good team on their home floor like OU is you have to make easy shots. You have to make some tough shots, but you darn sure better make some easy shots and we didn’t make those easy shots.
After clinging to a 31-28 lead at halftime, Oklahoma (18-5, 8-3 in Big 12) started the second half with a 10-1 run, capped off by Sharane Campbell’s 3-pointer with 13:54 left to extend the lead to 49-36.
“Sometimes it just takes one,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. “You make one and then everybody feels better and you’re good.”
The Cowgirls (16-6, 5-6 in Big 12) got off to a decent start, taking an early 10-5 lead 6 minutes into the game thanks to a pair of buckets by senior Toni Young.
But while Young provided the spark for Oklahoma State’s offense early, she struggled on the defensive end and picked up her second foul with 14:06 left in the first half.
“When you lose your leading scorer and your leading rebounder it has a great affect on you,” Littell said. “You probably have to play other people too many minutes that aren’t used to playing that many minutes. It takes away from you some of the things you want to do scheme-wise to get her the basketball. She’s had numerous games where she picks up two quick fouls and it changes the dynamics of how we play.”
Young’s foul trouble seemed like a golden gift for the Sooners. Oklahoma was able to feed the ball to Nicole Griffin in the post and the junior made the Cowgirls pay.
“We felt Nicole has gone up against great post players all year and her confidence is just continually building because of that,” Coale said. “So (we) go right after Toni, get her in foul trouble and go right at her and make her defend you. She did a great job of putting the ball on the floor and laying out, and not just settling for a jump hook.”
Freshman Brittney Martin — playing in her first Bedlam game — helped the Cowgirls keep the lead up to about 3-minute mark, before the Sooners ended the half with a 6-2 run capped off by Griffin’s jumper with 8 seconds left in the half. Martin finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
“We needed to pick it up in the second half,” Martin said. “We came into halftime looking like we were getting killed when really we weren’t down by that much. We needed to come back and play our game and we didn’t.”
Oklahoma expanded the lead to 19 when Nicole Kornet drained a 3-pointer from the wing to give the Sooners a 65-46 lead with 8:12 left, before the Cowgirls showed a little life with a 6-0 run of their own.
That’s as close as Oklahoma State got, as they had no answer for Griffin. The junior tallied 21 points and five rebounds to lead the Sooners.
“(Griffin) does her work before the ball comes by sealing you and getting you down low in the paint,” Littell said. “We allowed her to catch the ball too deep in the paint and she’s a handful there. ... We’ve got to do a better job of guarding and not letting her set up so close to the basket.”
Along with Martin, Kendra Suttles was a rebound shy of a double-double. Suttles finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Liz Donohoe had 13 points. Young also finished with 10 points, but just three rebounds after sitting out a majority of the first half because of the foul trouble.
Sharane Campbell and Joanna McFarland each recorded a double-double for the Sooners. McFarland finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds, while Campbell had 15 points and 12 boards.