No. 3 Oklahoma 83, North Texas 68

Sunday, November 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ The Texas-San Antonio Women's Tipoff Classic provided No. 3 Oklahoma with a taste of playoff pressure.

Caton Hill and LaNeishea Caufield scored 17 points apiece to lead Oklahoma to an 83-68 victory over the North Texas Eagles in the tournament championship game on Saturday.

Oklahoma (5-0) had five players in double figures. Rosalind Ross added 15 points, and Stacey Dales and Dionnah Jackson 13 apiece.

North Texas (3-2) was led by Jalie Mitchell with 18 points. Nicole Thomas added 16 and Shannan Stephenson, 15.

``The game was a lot closer than the final score,'' Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. ``I'm proud of how our team played in the second half. We executed our offense well, and we were ten times better with our defensive awareness. We must learn to play better under pressure.''

Oklahoma was pushed to the limit by North Texas, closing the game with an 18-4 run to score the win. The final score was the largest difference in the game.

Tied at 35 at halftime, Oklahoma started the second half with a 15-7 run to lead 50-42 on a Jamie Talbert layup with 14:07 to play.

North Texas, which connected on nine 3-point field goals, closed the gap to 65-64 with 6:06 to play on a free throw by Karen Lee.

Oklahoma dominated the final six minutes, going on a 9-0 run to lead 74-64 with 3:20 remaining on two free throws by Hill. She had five of her points during the decisive run.

After a jump shot by Mitchell cut the Oklahoma lead to 78-68 with 1:32 left, Ross connected for a 3-pointer goal and Dales answered with two free throws as the Sooners held on.

North Texas scored only four points over the final 6:06.

``I was proud of the way we played tonight,'' said North Texas coach Tina Slinker. ``We played with a lot of effort and I think our players now know they can play at this level. Oklahoma just had too much for us at the end.''

Oklahoma realizes there is plenty of work to be done if it is to challenge for the Big 12 title and make an extended run in the NCAA tournament.

``North Texas exposed some of our weaknesses that we must work on in order for us to have a successful season,'' Dales said. ``We must improve on our transition defense and execute our offense better.

``Overall, we played OK, but we know we must get better in order to win the Big 12.''