Oklahoma 70, Oral Roberts 64

Sunday, March 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Oral Roberts got the tempo it wanted. Oklahoma got the victory.

Oklahoma survived a scare Saturday night, needing a 9-0 run late in the game to pull away and beat the Golden Eagles 70-64 in the NCAA West regional.

``We have survived and we are playing Monday night, and we are very happy about that,'' coach Sherri Coale said.

The second-seeded Sooners (27-5) never led by more than eight, and trailed 57-55 with just over five minutes remaining before finally taking control.

All-American Stacey Dales and Caton Hill scored 16 each for the Sooners, who will Stanford, a 76-51 winner over George Washington, in the second round Monday night.

ORU coach Jerry Finkbeiner said his team had to keep a slow pace to have a chance against the Sooners, who came in averaging 83 points per game. The 15th-seeded Golden Eagles (20-11) did that, walking the ball up the floor on every possession and not allowing Oklahoma to get out and run.

``We didn't come down here to lose,'' Finkbeiner said. ``In our minds, we were going to play close. I'm so proud of our girls.''

Freshman Cori Williston scored 17 of her career-high 19 points in the second half. The Golden Eagles' leading scorer, Krista Ragan, added 14 but had only one basket in the second half and fouled out with 4:02 left.

``Our goal was to be within six points at the final media timeout,'' Finkbeiner said. ``The problem was we didn't have our leading scorer down the stretch.''

Oklahoma, which beat ORU by 31 on Nov. 18, trailed 54-51 after a Williston 3-pointer with 6:48 remaining. Hill scored inside and Rosalind Ross hit a follow shot to give the Sooners a 55-54 lead, but a three-point play by Ragan gave the lead back to the Golden Eagles.

Then Dales scored in the lane and Sunny Hardeman sank a 3-pointer, her only field goal, for a 60-57 lead with 4:32 left.

``I was like, `Man, I hope this goes in,' because it was a big shot,'' Hardeman said.

Finkbeiner got hit with a technical foul after reacting to the fifth foul against Ragan, who collided with Dales while chasing a loose ball.

Hardeman made one of the two technical free throws, then Dales added one of two _ the miss was an airball _ for a 62-57 lead.

Jamie Talbert closed out the run with an inside basket that gave Oklahoma a 64-57 lead.

Williston cut the deficit to four with a 3-pointer at the 3:17 mark, but the Golden Eagles got no closer the rest of the way.

``The goal was to stay within four or five,'' Ragan said. ``We knew the longer that we stayed around, the pressure was going to get tighter on them.''

The pressure was evident _ Dales' airball was one of two by Oklahoma from the free throw line. But the Sooners made enough plays to win and move on.

``They played to survive and did an outstanding job of trying to slow the game down,'' Coale said. ``They were playing hard and we were tight. We'll be fine.''