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Sooners’ road to OKC goes through Seattle

Pac12.com
Oklahoma and Gonzaga meet Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament at Alaska Airline Arena in Seattle.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The No 23 nationally-ranked Oklahoma Sooners women’s basketball team got the No. 6 bid in the Oklahoma City Regional and will meet No. 11 Gonzaga at 5:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2) in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in Seattle.

The Bulldogs (26-6), although seeded lower, travel only 283 miles to the University of Washington campus (one of the first round venues). The 22-9 Sooners must travel 2,000 miles for their first round matchup.

The Bulldogs won the West Coast Conference regular season title and the post-season tournament. Lisa Fortier is 71-28 in three years as the Bulldogs’ head coach and was named WCC Coach of the Year for the second time in three years.

Sophomore forward Jill Barta led the Zags with 16.9 points per game and was named to the all-WCC first team. Senior forward Kiara Kudron also was named all-conference, and she leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game and is second with 10 points per outing.

Sherri Coale led Oklahoma to an 18th straight NCAA Tournament bid this year. In her 21 years as head coach, she has guided the Sooners to a 463-223 record three Final Four appearances and finished second in 2002.

“Gonzaga is playing really close to home, so it will be a fun experience for us,” Coale said. “We will get an NCAA Tournament environment in Seattle. You gotta be good this time of year no matter who you’re playing, where you’re playing.”

Coale said it is special to have OU appear in 18 straight NCAA Tournaments.

“It does not get old. I had just as many butterflies waiting for our name to come up as I did in 2000. Each year is so unique and so rare in it’s on way, that you can’t afford to compare it to anything else.”

 OU finished third in the Big 12 Conference this year with a 13-5 mark and was bounced out of the conference tournament quarterfinals by West Virginia.

The Sooners landed two players on the all-Big 12 second team. Senior guard Peyton Little is second on Oklahoma’s team with a 12.2 scoring average. Junior center Vionese Pierre-Louis is third in scoring with an 11.9-point average, but she leads the team with 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Her shooting percentage of 53.4 percent also leads the team. Senior guard Maddie Manning leads the Sooners in scoring with a 12.7-point average.

Brigham Young was the only common opponent for both teams this year. Oklahoma beat the Cougars, 68-61, in Provo, Utah. The Bulldogs and BYU are conference mates and met twice this year. Gonzaga won the first meeting, 87-52, at home, but lost the regular season finale, 71-63, at Provo.

The Sooners and Zags have met only once, and Oklahoma won, 82-78, four years in Norman in the WNIT Preseason semifinals.

The OU-Gonzaga winner will meet the winner of No. 3 seed Washington (27-5) and No. 14 seed Montana State (25-6) on Monday. If the Sooners won twice, they would advance to the OKC Regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena the following weekend.

STAT COMPARISONS

                                    OU                  GU

Scoring Offense:         73.7                 72.3

Scoring Defense:         68.6                 57.8

Field Goal Pctg:          41.2%              42.9%

3-Point FG Pctg:         33.3%              33.3%

Free Throw Pctg:        73.0%              77.5%

Rebounds:                   39.8                 40.7

Assists:                        13.2                 15.8

Turnovers:                   15.7                 15.0

Steals:                            9.3                   8.5

Blocked Shots:              5.6                   4.8

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Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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