Oklahoma Advances In NCAA Tournament

Saturday, March 17th 2007, 2:04 pm
By: News On 6

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) There's more to the Oklahoma Sooners than Courtney Paris.

Just enough, it turns out, for the 3rd-seeded Sooners to hold off No. 14 Southeast Missouri State 74-60 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Freshman Jenna Plumley, all 5-foot-4 inches of her, had 20 points behind six 3-pointers and Leah Rush scored 19 to lead Oklahoma (27-4), which struggled to put away the Redhawks in front of a pro-Sooners crowd.

Sonya Daugherty led Southeast Missouri State (24-8) with 25 points in the Dayton Regional's opening game. The Redhawks trailed 64-58 with 4-minutes to play before Plumley hit her fifth 3-pointer, then buried another 60 seconds later to make it 70-60. Plumley also had 7-assists.

Paris, one of the most dominating players in the country, struggled the entire game but still got her 59th consecutive double-double with a burst in the final 5-minutes to finish with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Rush was 8-12 for the Sooners, who shot 57%.

The Redhawks stunned the Sooners with a fast start.

Daugherty hit two 3-pointers and Southeast Missouri State led 22-14. Defensively, the Redhawks clogged the passing lanes to prevent the Sooners from dumping the ball down low to Paris, who took only 2-shots in the 1st-half.

Even when the Sooners tried to lob it in, the Redhawks were able to tip it away. Paris had only 3-rebounds in the 1st-half and twice the Redhawks ripped the ball from her strong hands.

The Redhawks were on a roll until a 3-point attempt by Ashley Lovelady wedged between the rim and the basket. The stop in play gave the Sooners a chance to regroup.

An 18-5 Oklahoma run _ including a long 3-pointer from Plumley, who seemed to inch farther and farther out each time she shot _ put the Sooners up 26-23 and Oklahoma led 37-34 at halftime.

Paris started the 2nd-half with a strong baseline layup the first time she touched the ball and ripped down 3-straight rebounds on the other end. The basket made her the fastest player in NCAA history to reach 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds _ she did it in her 67th career game.

Oklahoma kept stretching its lead from the outside. A 3-pointer by Rush, at 6-1 a tough mismatch when she pulls up from the arc, helped put the Sooners up by 10.

Plumley had 2-nifty assists to Paris on tosses inside, then found her shooting stroke again. After hitting four 3-pointers in the 1st-half, she had missed her first three attempts in the 2nd-and seemed to get a little wild with her shot selection.

But when Missy Whitney hit a 3-pointer to get the Redhawks within six, Plumley launched one in a high arc that swished in and seemed to calm the Sooners' nerves.

When she followed it with yet another, the Redhawks were out of chances to rally.