No. 4 Oklahoma 67, Texas A&M 51

Saturday, February 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ On a day the offense struggled, Oklahoma's defense helped the fourth-ranked Sooners pull out their 19th straight home victory.

``Texas A&M was flustered by the defensive intensity we applied late in the game,'' said Stacey Dales, who led Oklahoma with 20 points and 10 rebounds. ``LaNeishea (Caufield) and Dionnah (Jackson) started it and you could see it energize our whole team.

``We finally played well the last few minutes and found a way to win.''

Dales had six points in a decisive 14-2 run late in the game that finished the Aggies (12-11, 4-7). She only made two of her first 12 shots but the All-American scored 14 points in the second half.

The Sooners (20-2, 10-1 Big 12) led 53-49 when Dales converted a turnover into a fast-break basket with 3:20 remaining.

She then made another basket and two free throws around a layup by LaNeishea Caufield to stretch the lead to 10 points.

``We just battled and that's what conference play is all about,'' Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. ``Late in the game, (Stacey) got her game face on and decided she was going to will the ball in the basket, and will every rebound she could get which completely changed the face of the game.''

Dales connected on her last five shots and finished 6 of 6 at the free throw line.

Texas A&M trailed by as many as 12 in the opening half, but rallied behind 15 points from LaToya Rose. The Aggies trailed 33-23 at the break before Rose sparked a 10-2 run that cut the lead to two.

Texas A&M outrebounded Oklahoma 45-38, but committed 25 turnovers and shot only 29 percent. The Aggies were 4 of 22 from the 3-point line and failed to take advantage of 24 offensive rebounds.

``We didn't shoot the ball well at all. We just weren't converting our opportunities,'' said Texas A&M coach Peggie Gillom, whose team lost its eighth straight against the Sooners. ``Oklahoma is a good defensive team, but that is just part of what happened. We missed a lot of open shots.''

Caufield finished with 18 points, and Caton Hill added 15 for Oklahoma.

Toccara Williams added nine points and 11 rebounds for the Aggies.