West Virginia upsets No. 20 Oklahoma
Published: Monday, February 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 4, 2013 00:02
Three points separated West Virginia and Oklahoma in the first meeting between the two schools this season in Norman. In the devastating loss for the West Virginia women’s basketball team, the Sooners proved to be a bit too much in the late stages of the game.
The Mountaineers had their chance for revenge against the No. 20 Sooners Sunday afternoon. It’s safe to say WVU capitalized on the opportunity to face a familiar foe with a dominating 82-63 victory in front of 3,153 at the Coliseum.
"I love it (seeing teams twice a year)," said junior guard Christal Caldwell. "We let one slip away at Oklahoma, and we came here on our home court and took care of business. We have to do that with a few more teams."
Although they were down in the early stages of the first half, West Virginia maintained its composure and had a 34-27 halftime lead. Caldwell ignited the Mountaineers with 15 points, as she shot 50 percent from the field.
Despite some strong work from OU in the paint, WVU was able to get some key steals and easy transition points from Caldwell and freshman guard Bria Holmes. The freshman had eight points at the half.
The Sooners were up by as many as 11 points in the first half, but a 23-5 run in the final nine minutes gave West Virginia the 7-point lead at halftime.
After only hitting one 3-pointer in the first half, WVU used its seven steals to give OU trouble in the first 20 minutes of action.
Caldwell and Holmes picked up right where they left off in the first half. Four Mountaineers were in double figures, but the junior and freshman led the way when WVU was in dire need of a bucket.
Despite a double-double from Sooners’ senior power forward Joanna McFarland, West Virginia used its defensive pressure and attack to cause Oklahoma to force the ball over more than it would have liked on the afternoon. McFarland ended the night with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. However, she also finished with four fouls and was in foul trouble for the majority of the game.
WVU used 40 bench points and 13 steals to pick up the energy following a 22-11 deficit. Caldwell finished with 24 points and Holmes added 17 points off the bench. Junior forward Jess Harlee, noted as the team’s energy spark by many teammates and head coach Mike Carey, added 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench. The forward also provided three steals.
"I just knew I had to step it up on defense and get some easy steals," Harlee said. "We had to pick up our defense so our offense could pick up, too. It (my energy) just comes naturally. I’ve always been that player who dove into bleachers or gets on the ground and has bruises all over my body. That’s just how I play, and I’ve always played like that.
"I just attacked the basket when I was open and attacked the basket on offensive and defensive rebounds."
West Virginia shot 42.7 percent from the field against the Sooners. Oklahoma, struggling to hold onto the ball for the majority of the afternoon through 17 turnovers, shot 34.9 percent from the field.
"I thought we missed several layups, which are big momentum shifters," said OU head coach Sherri Coale. "It could obviously be a huge advantage for you, but when you miss them, it’s almost a greater disadvantage for you. That was part of it, and then we began our little turnover-fest."
When asked if Oklahoma is used to playing that physical type of game, Coale simply said "No."
Carey was satisfied with West Virginia defeating its second-straight ranked team and earning a big win on its home floor.
"Needless to say (it) was a big win for us," he said. "The first four minutes we came out and played flat. We brought some people off the bench that gave us energy. Bria Holmes came in and gave us some scoring, and Jess Harlee played great off the bench. For the first four minutes, they did exactly what we knew they were going to do, and we let them do it. Then afterwards we were able to shut that down.
"It’s a great win for us, but we have to win a lot more. You look at us the first four minutes of the game and you look at us the last four minutes; it’s like night and day. It was the energy. We have to play like that for 40 minutes."
WVU improves to 13-8 and .500 in the conference with a 5-5 mark. Oklahoma drops to 16-5 overall (6-3 Big 12).
The Mountaineers have little time to celebrate as they head to Lubbock for another chance at redemption when they take on the Texas Tech Lady Raiders Wednesday night.