Sooners End Season With Tough Loss To St. Johns
NORMAN, Oklahoma - In one of the most back-and-forth games of the season, the Oklahoma Sooners suffered a heartbreaking 74-70 loss to St. Johns, falling just short of its fifth-straight Sweet Sixteen appearance.
"At the end, we had some good shots that just didn't go in," said OU Head Coach Sherri Coale. "We had to have those."
The No. 6 Sooners were paced by Whitney Hand's 17 points, seven assists and seven rebounds while Nicole Griffin added 12 and Morgan Hook scored 10 to end the season at 21-13 on the year.
Oklahoma kept the game close despite its 19 turnovers on the night, but St. Johns scored 21 points off those turnovers and held off a second-half surge by the Sooners to pick up the win.
From the very start, the two teams exchanged buckets back and forth until St. John's Eugenia McPherson's two field goals and a free throw put the Red Storm up 13-8 midway through the first.
No. 3 seeded Red Storm would lead by as many as seven in the first that was capped by Shenneika Smith's 3-pointer as time expired to give the Red Storm a 39-36 lead at the break.
The second half was a physical battle for every ball, every possession.
Oklahoma took its largest lead of the game when Morgan Hook sank a 3-pointer with just under 17 minutes to play to give OU a 47-44 lead.
Hook had to take a seat just four minutes into the second as she picked up her fourth foul. Despite Hook not being in the game, OU freshman DaShawn Harden and sophomore Aaryn Ellenberg stepping up at the point dishing numerous assists to keep the Sooners in the game.
Action on both ends continued, but before long St. Johns capitalized on more OU turnovers to go on a 16-5 run and increase the score to its biggest lead of the night at 60-52 with less than 11 minutes left.
The Sooners refused to back down though. Oklahoma cut the deficit to 62-61 thanks to Harden's 3-pointer with just over seven minutes left in the game.
Hook returned to play with four minutes to go with OU down 68-63. Her 3-pointer at the 1:58 minute mark made it 70-68, but that would be the last field goal the Sooners would score.
Five missed shots in the final 40 seconds of play doomed the Sooners in the 74-70 loss. Oklahoma had a chance to tie the game off a 3-pointer by Ellenberg's the top of the key with 37 seconds left, but the ball knocked off the right side of the rim and went out of bounds.
Despite its 19 turnovers, Oklahoma received help with 19 points off the bench compared to St. John's four.
The Sooners managed 47.9 percent shooting from the floor and went 4-of-11 from 3-point range while St. John's shot 41.5 percent from the field and was 40 percent from behind the arc.
McPherson scored 21 points for the Red Storm while Smith added 18 and St. John's advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA women's tournament for the first time in school history.
St. Johns advances to the next round to take on Duke Saturday in the regional semi-finals.