No. 9 Oklahoma 78 , Oklahoma St. 63 [women]

Sunday, February 4th 2007, 5:54 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke decided his team's best chance against Oklahoma was to eliminate the production of All-America center Courtney Paris' teammates.

Even with his high opinion of the 6-foot-2 sophomore, he didn't anticipate how much damage Paris could do.

Paris tied Oklahoma's career double-doubles record with 41 points and 19 rebounds, and the No. 9 Sooners held Oklahoma State without a field goal for more than 10 minutes in a 78-63 win Sunday.

``People have got to respect her as the best player in the country,'' Budke said. ``I don't know if any of you in this room were wondering what was wrong with Courtney when she was getting 20 and 15. That's ridiculous. That's ridiculous to be wondering why she's having a bad night when she gets 20 and 15.

``She's the best player in this country. I've been saying it since the first time I saw her, and nothing changed my mind tonight.''

Paris matched Molly McGuire's 54 career double-doubles from 1980-83 by reaching double figures in both points and rebounds for the 49th straight game.

Paris was 16-22 from the field and finished two points shy of matching her career high. It was her highest scoring output against a Big 12 opponent.

``We thought we'd defend her one-on-one, knowing that the potential for 30 (points) was there,'' Budke said. ``We didn't want her to get 41 and 19. We thought we could handle 30 and shut everybody else down.''

It worked for a while. Despite missing pregame warmups with a stomach illness, Paris scored Oklahoma's first nine points, but the Cowgirls came out even hotter.

Oklahoma State hit 10 of its first 15 shots and used a 12-4 run to go up 25-16 on Rashidat Sadiq's jumper from the left side with 9:44 left in the half. But the Cowgirls' next basket didn't come until 59 seconds into the second half.

Oklahoma (18-3, 8-2) outscored Oklahoma State 19-2 to end the first half and then started the second half with a 9-2 run.

The Sooners have won the past 17 Bedlam rivalry games, and the last 11 by double figures. They avoided their first three-game losing streak since January 2004.

``I'm very proud of my team, and I'm very proud of the progress that we've made from last year to this year. We might have obviously picked a bad time to catch Oklahoma,'' Budke said. ``Coming off two losses, they were going to be locked in and they were going to be ready to go.''

Sadiq, a transfer from Connecticut, scored 16 points to lead Oklahoma State (15-7, 3-6). Andrea Riley had 11 points, and Danielle Green added 10. The Cowgirls committed a season-high 23 turnovers and were 6-28 from 3-point range.

To end the first half, they missed their last 11 shots and committed 8 turnovers as the Sooners took over.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale asserted that the Sooners' turnaround began when Ashley Paris entered the game and started working a high-low game with her twin sister. She thought her team was doing ``nothing special'' on defense.

Jenna Plumley started the Sooners' rally with a pair of free throws, and Oklahoma got within one after the Paris twins teamed up on one of the high-low moves _ with Ashley setting up Courtney's layup down low with a pass from the high post _ that led to a three-point play.

Budke responded by putting Sadiq back into the lineup with two fouls, but the move didn't work. Courtney Paris put back her miss to give Oklahoma a 26-25 edge, and Sadiq's third foul sent Britney Brown to the free-throw line for two foul shots _ and Sadiq back to the bench.

Courtney Paris scored two more baskets around an Erin Higgins 3-pointer, and the Sooners led 35-27 at halftime.

The Cowgirls had another scoring drought of 5 minutes in the second half, and the Sooners extended their lead to 50-32 after five consecutive points from Paris.

Oklahoma State got within 10 twice after that, but Oklahoma responded each time _ once with seven straight points and once with eight in a row.

Coale said she thought the difference in Paris was her usage of different paces.

``I thought she had a rhythm and cadence about her that kept them off balance and kept them from being able to predict what she was going to do,'' Coale said.