No. 3 Oklahoma 91, Illinois 69

Monday, December 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma, coming off a break for final exams, made short work of Illinois and prepared for a real test _ No. 1 Connecticut.

LaNeishea Caufield scored 28 points and Stacey Dales added 21 to lead No. 3 Oklahoma to a 91-69 victory over Illinois on Sunday, extending the Sooners' winning streak to 10 games.

Oklahoma visits top-ranked Connecticut on Saturday.

``It's nice to be 10-0,'' coach Sherri Coale said. ``Now, we can think about what we've been trying not to think about for a couple of weeks, and that's Connecticut.

``It'll be nice to have a week where our players don't have class, they don't have finals, they don't have to worry about anything but preparing for UConn.''

Oklahoma is 0-2 against Connecticut, losing 84-68 in Norman in the 1999-2000 regular season and 102-80 in the 2000 NCAA tournament.

An eight-day layoff had little effect on the Sooners, who charged to an early lead against Illinois (5-3) and built a 52-31 advantage by halftime.

``I thought our energy was great. I thought we played really hard and dominated the game in effort,'' Coale said. ``Our execution was good, I liked the way we attacked their press. The first half was really, really solid.''

Caufield led the way, scoring 18 of her points in the first 20 minutes.

``Neisha's definitely doing a great job,'' said Dales, who had seven assists. ``She's finding the gaps, finding the seams and we're able to get her the ball in the crucial areas and she's a great finisher around the basket.

``We're playing very well together and I think that's what's important _ together as a cohesive unit. When we're together, we're really good.''

Illinois cut their deficit to 10 early in the second half, but got no closer.

Rosalind Ross had 18 points, and Caton Hill added 13 for Oklahoma.

Iveta Marcauskaite led Illinois with 16 points. Shavonna Hunter had 13 and Tiffanie Guthrie 10.