Oklahoma Surges to Big 12 Championship

Saturday, March 10th 2007, 2:41 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Leah Rush matched a season-high with 18 points and No. 11 Oklahoma used a series of big runs to surge past resilient Iowa State for a 67-60 win in the Big 12 championship game Saturday night.

The second-seeded Sooners (26-4) opened the game with an 11-0 run, but had to fight back with two more double-digit runs after the Cyclones claimed an eight-point second half lead.

Rush had a jumper and a 3-pointer to finish Oklahoma's second 11-point run of the game and put the Sooners on top 38-35, and backup point guard Kendra Moore added a pair of 3-pointers in a 15-0 surge that allowed them to pull away for a 57-42 lead.

Iowa State (25-8), the Big 12's most prolific team from long distance, got back within 57-51 with three straight 3-pointers before All-America center Courtney Paris answered with back-to-back layups for the Sooners.

Paris ended up with 23 points and 21 rebounds for her 58th straight double-double, but she missed 11 of her first 15 shots _ most of them from right under the basket _ as Oklahoma gave up the lead after its impressive start.

Oklahoma was 6-8 from the free-throw line in the final minute to seal its eighth straight win. The Sooners exchanged hugs and high-fives at midcourt to celebrate their fourth Big 12 title.

Alison Lacey and Lyndsey Medders each scored 17 points to lead fifth-seeded Iowa State, which was trying to match Oklahoma's 2004 run and become the second team to win the title without the benefit of a first-round bye. The Cyclones had an eight-game winning streak snapped.

Oklahoma started with 11 straight points and appeared poised to run away with its second straight Big 12 title. Paris scored from the right block and then found Erin Higgins cutting to the basket for a layup to make it 6-0, and the Sooners' sensational sophomore pointed toward the roof and high-stepped for a moment before heading to the bench for a timeout.

After Paris' basket made it 11-0, crimson-clad Oklahoma fans _ who occupied all but three sections in the Cox Convention Center _ had a chance to sing along as the pep band played ``Boomer Sooner.''

But Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly settled his team with his second timeout of the first three minutes, and Medders' driving layup from the left wing cut the deficit to 19-18 as the Sooners missed 12 straight shots in a 6 1/2-minute drought.

After Paris finally broke through with a layup, Megan Ronhovde nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to tie it at 21.