NORMAN, Okla. — It was only a matter of time before Aaryn Ellenberg showed her true form Saturday night.
When it happened, there was no stopping her.
After Chynna Brown hit a 3-pointer from the corner to turn a once 12-point second-half deficit into a 52-48 Oklahoma lead with four minutes, 45 seconds to go, Ellenberg scored eight straight points to lay to rest any upset hopes from the Texas Tech women’s basketball team in a 65-55 Sooner victory.
“It was close at that point,” Ellenberg said, “so every shot really counted and I was open, which I usually am a lot. So I didn’t really think much, just shot it and expected to make it.”
Ellenberg led all scorers with 26 points, including 13 in the final 3:33 to clinch the game for the No. 16 Sooners (14-2, 4-0 in Big 12 Conference play).
The Sooners are one of two teams still undefeated in league play, with Baylor entering Sunday with a perfect 3-0 mark.
The All-Big 12 guard came into Saturday averaging more than 18 points per game this season, and she has now scored 20 or more points against Tech three times in six career games.
Ellenberg started the run by identifying a mismatch and quickly popping a 3 over the head of Kelsi Baker at the top of the key. Baker was forced to switch to the elusive guard on a screen, and it took less than a second for Ellenberg to make the decision to shoot.
Earlier this week, Tech coach Kristy Curry said Ellenberg moves extremely well without the ball and can “catch and shoot” with the best of them.
Unfortunately for the Lady Raiders, Ellenberg proved Curry right.
“Just credit her for stepping up and making big plays,” Curry said. “I think at that point you have to credit Oklahoma. I think certainly they were able to make plays and make big shots. We know that she does that very well.”
Prior to Ellenberg’s game-clinching series, Tech had contained Ellenberg fairly well.
The guard was just 2 for 9 from the floor in the first half for six points, but both of her buckets came from beyond the 3-point arc in a sign of things to come.
“For the most part,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said, “I thought (Tech) did a really good job not giving her many looks. It was deep in the game before she was able to get loose and get an open look at the basket, and the wheels sort of fell off the wagon for them.”
The Lady Raiders (12-4, 2-2) built a 12-point deficit by going 2 of 12 from the free-throw line — a stark contrast from their 7 for 8 performance in the first half.
Tech led 29-28 at intermission, keeping the high-scoring Sooners away from the basket.
The Sooners used an 18-5 run during a nearly six-minute stretch in the second half to build their largest lead of the game, erasing a one-point Tech advantage.
But still, when the Sooners went up big — keyed by strong play by Joanna McFarland, who had 14 points and 16 rebounds — Tech kept coming.
Amber Battle and Brown hit big 3-pointers, and Shauntal Nobles played some of her best basketball of the season to help key the comeback bid.
“Coach Curry just was saying ‘have your feet ready and be ready to shoot,’” said Brown, who tied with Casey Morris for the team lead with 11 points. “So me and Casey were just trying to have our feet ready.”
As ready as they were, they couldn’t keep up with Ellenberg.
The Lady Raiders return to the court at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Texas (7-7, 0-3) in Austin. The Longhorns host No. 21 Oklahoma State at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
To comment on this story:
email@example.com • 766-8723
firstname.lastname@example.org • 766-2166