NORMAN, Okla. --No. 17 Oklahoma weathered the fight brought by Big 12 Conference newcomers West Virginia, taking Wednesday’s league opener 71-68.
The Sooners trailed by as much as 9 and constantly battled against an aggressive Mountaineer defense, tying the game eight times before taking their first lead on Aaryn Ellenberg’s free throws with 5 minutes to play.
From there, Oklahoma took a 66-60 advantage and held on for the final two minutes to snatch the victory away from West Virginia.
“Wow, that was a fight,” OU head coach Sherri Coale said. “That was a fight for 40 minutes, and I thought it was a great show of character by our team just grinding their way back.
“I thought our execution late in the game was really, really solid. Defensively, we adhered to the game a little bit better in the second half. We did a great job on the boards, getting some separation. That’s the only way you survive turning it over 21 times with only eight assists. We did what we had to do to win the game, and I’m really, really proud of this team.”
All five Sooner starters reach double figures as 32 West Virginia fouls allowed Oklahoma to score 31 points from the free-throw line.
Aaryn Ellenberg scored 19 points. Sharane Campbell, with 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, and Joanna McFarland, with 13 and 13, each had double-doubles.
West Virginia’s Taylor Palmer scored a game-high 30 points. But Palmer also served as a catalyst for OU’s comeback, putting Sooners on the line three straight times to give away the go-ahead points and fouling out with 2 ½ minutes to play. West Virginia led 39-36 at halftime. (Stats and more at SoonerSports)
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