Norman, OK -- No. 21 Oklahoma (6-1) had revenge on the brain as they hosted Little Rock(2-3), a team not nationally ranked, but etched in the Sooners brains after the Trojans snapped a four-game winning streak just a year ago when the two teams faced off in Arkansas.
Oklahoma has been off to a scorching start this year and just returned from the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas where they won both of their games and claimed the Reef Division Title.
Junior Peyton Little took home the MVP award of the Reef Division. The Sooners have trounced their last four opponents by an average of 22.3 points, but it was a different story in Norman tonight when the Trojans came to town.
The two teams battled it out in the first half with a slew of lead changes and a fast-paced tone that kept the crowd at Lloyd Noble on their toes. Both clubs were running and gunning and pushing the transition game.
Little Rock's tenacity and physicality just would not die down throughout the first half, and they seemed to be on top of every loose ball and came up with several second and third chance shots off the offensive glass.
Kaylon Williams got virtually anything she wanted for the Sooners in the first half, and the Trojans really had no match for her size under the basket. She scored their first six points on three straight trips to the basket in less than two minutes of play. The mistake they made was not getting her the ball enough after that, allowing Little Rock to stay within just two at the half with a score of 31-29.
The stats would lead you to believe it should have been nowhere near that close, with Oklahoma shooting 56.5 field goal percent and Little Rock just 34.2% from the field and 0% from the line. However, the Sooners got way fewer shots off with 23 attempts compared to the Trojans' 38.
Oklahoma also helped Little Rock's cause with 11 turnovers in the half. The Trojans' defense was able to contain Oklahoma beyond the arc, where they are ranked second in the Big 12, and Peyton Little leads any player in the conference. The Sooners went just 1-3 from the three-point line in the half.
Oklahoma's leading scorer, Peyton Little, began to heat up in the fourth after being relatively quiet for the first three-quarters. Her transition jumper put the Sooners up 10, the largest lead of the game.
Trips to the line were a detriment to the Trojans who got there just three times compared to Oklahoma's 17.
Oklahoma was also able to get the rock in Kay Kay Williams' hands more often in the second half, and she finished with a strong double-double performance of 21 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Sooners. A trey-ball by Maddie Manning with 1:35 left in the game followed by another from McKenna Williams put the Sooners up 14 and virtually sealed the deal.
After the game, Head Coach Sherri Coale talked about the Sooners' play in the second half and Kay Kay's strong showing:
"What I really liked about the way we played in the second half was that Kay Kay was communicating with the guards, telling them when she wanted it and where she wanted it and when she was defended at a position where the ball was at a particular point in time, she showed them where she was open from and they took the ball to her.
Taking the ball to the action is a big part of a post player's maturation. Kay Kay is a senior and played like a senior and looked like a senior tonight."
Kay Kay talked about how satisfying the victory was against this team who beat them last year and ended up going to the sweet 16. "It was great. I thought it was cool because you really don't get second opportunities to play teams like that, and I thought it was just another opportunity for us to not only get a win and redeem ourselves from last year.
"We made steps in the right direction, which made me even more happy with the win."
Oklahoma won 65-52 in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates and their second lowest-scoring performance of the season. They will head to Washington for their next face-off this Sunday at 5:30 pm CST.
Shanity James finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds for Little Rock.