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Sooners Survive Round One of NCAA Tournament

The Oklahoma women’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, after defeating the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 73-70. Let’s talk about it.

In the first quarter, the Sooners were put on their heels. FGCU came out firing and ready to go. The Eagles hoisted up 17 three-point shots in the first quarter of the game, and hit eight of them. FGCU is a team that likes to shoot the long ball, and they can knock them down with the best of them. Oklahoma trailed 25-15 after one quarter of play, and FGCU led by as many as 14.

It appeared to be a point of emphasis for OU to run the Eagles off the three-point line, and make them convert at the rim. In the second quarter, Oklahoma was able to contain FGCU to 40% from beyond the arc, with only five three-point shots taken. The Sooners were able to cut the lead down to two heading into halftime.

Skylar Vann scored her second-highest points of the season with 24. She also had three rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal. She shot 9/18 from the field. There’s a reason she won co-Big-12 player of the year, and she showed it in round one of the tournament.

Sahara Williams brought both offensive and defensive intensity in the second quarter. She was able to get downhill and start attacking the rim, and ultimately drawing a couple of fouls. She is such a dynamic piece for the Sooners offense and can take over a game if she wants to. She finished her NCAA tournament debut with 14 points, and five rebounds. She shot 8/10 from the free throw line, and 3/4 from the field. Her 14 points in her NCAA tournament debut were the most for an Oklahoma freshman since Shaina Pellington had 17 in 2017.

Payton Verhulst, who played 39 minutes of the game, while not having the best shooting night, still had a lot of impact on it. She had a turnaround jumper with 48 seconds left to give Oklahoma the lead. Verhulst had 11 points, three rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. She made big plays when OU needed it most throughout the game.

Jennie Baranczyk also got good minutes from Sophomore Reyna Scott. Scott had nine points off the bench, one rebound, and two assists, in her 10 minutes of postseason action. For a sophomore, Scott looked very comfortable under the bright lights of March Madness.

Reyna Scott in the game against Texas.

While the point number might not jump off the page, Aubrey Joens also had a lot of impact on the game. She hit a corner three-pointer with 1:20 on the clock to give OU a 70-68 lead. Joens was also very active on the glass, grabbing four rebounds for the Sooners.

Oklahoma was able to prevent a game-winning shot from FGCU with one second left on the clock, to escape the first round.

Next up for the Sooners is a matchup in the round of 32 with Indiana on Monday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Images courtesy of Audrey Quan/OU Daily

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