Skylar Vann's Big Night Against Central Arkansas Moves Sooners To 3-0

Tuesday, November 16th 2021, 10:09 pm
By: OU Athletics

NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Oklahoma women's basketball team forced 28 turnovers in a 78-54 win over Central Arkansas Tuesday night in Norman to improve to 3-0 on the season for the first time since the 2016-17 season. 

The 28 forced turnovers mark the most for the Sooners (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) since Dec. 20, 2016, when they turned Cal over 33 times in Las Vegas. Skylar Vann tallied her third career double-double as Ana Llanusa and Madi Williams scored 16 and 15, respectively.

"Tonight was a game that we're going to learn a lot from," head coach Jennie Baranczyk said. "I feel like we did a lot of good things and also did a lot of things that we'll take lessons from. But this is a fun team, it's a balanced team and now we've got to get ready for the next game because we've got one heck of a tournament we're going to."

The Sooners created lots of open chances in the first quarter but couldn't get their shots to fall and trailed 11-10 late in the frame. Vann, a sophomore from Edmond, Okla., subbed into the game and notched her first four points of the night, giving the Sooners 14-11 lead to close the period. Vann's outburst sparked a 14-0 OU run over 5:23 to give Baranczyk's team control of the game.

"I really do think Skylar's best basketball is in front of her," the first-year head coach said. "I know she had a double-double tonight, which is awesome. You see some of the rebounds she got, and she comes into the game for us and is ready to go right away. But there is so much more to her game and our job is to get her to the next level."

The Sooners used that run to win the second quarter, 22-8, and take a commanding 36-19 lead into the break. Oklahoma held the Sugar Bears to 29.2% from the floor in the first half, including surrendering just two buckets in the second quarter.

"Defense can go with you everywhere," Baranczyk added. "It doesn't matter if you're at home or on the road – it's something that we focused on a lot coming into tonight and I thought we did a better job on that end."

In the third frame, Central Arkansas (1-2, 0-0 ASUN) came out firing, nearly matching the Crimson and Cream in the quarter, with OU narrowly outscoring the Sugar Bears 18-17 to enter the final frame with an 18-point lead. In the fourth, UCA cut into the Oklahoma lead, trimming it to 15 with 4:04 left in the contest, but a quick 9-0 run put the game out of reach, delivering Oklahoma's first 3-0 start in five seasons.

Ana Llanusa scored 16 on 5-of-14 shooting, notching her third consecutive 15-plus-point outing of the young season. In addition, the redshirt senior from Choctaw, Okla., matched her career high with five steals, a mark she set vs. Kansas State on Feb. 10, 2019.

"Defense is something that I've grown to love and take on the role of," Llanusa said. "It was good to get back to being myself and getting steals like that. I haven't had a game like that since my sophomore year so it was good to play defense at the level that I know I can."

Llanusa was followed in the box score by Madi Williams, who added 15 points, hitting the 15-point threshold for the 18th time in 24 games. Williams' seven-point fourth-quarter outburst moved her into sole possession of 20th in scoring all-time (1,305) in the OU annals, passing Vionise Pierre-Louis (1,301).

Vann was critical for the Sooners on Tuesday night in Norman, tallying 12 points (5-of-10) and a career-high 11 rebounds to secure the third double-double of her career.

The Sooners now head to the Bahamas for the inaugural Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis, where they'll take on No. 9 Oregon on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT on FloHoops. Following the matchup with the Ducks, Oklahoma will face either No. 1 South Carolina or Buffalo on Sunday. The other side of the bracket features No. 2 UConn, No. 21 South Florida, Minnesota and Syracuse.

"I believe in this team in terms of who we can be and who we are," Baranczyk said. "We're going in to play our best basketball no matter who we play and we're excited for the challenge."