1-16-08 - With her player of the year resume, Oklahoma center Courtney Paris doesn't get to see many one-on-one matchups anymore.
She reminded Nebraska why Wednesday night, scoring three baskets in a decisive second-half surge that pushed the No. 11 Sooners to an 80-72 win.
Danielle Robinson scored 22 points, but it was Paris who led the way as Oklahoma (11-3, 2-1 Big 12) finally put away a persistent Huskers bunch that fought back to tie it after trailing by 12 midway through the first half.
Paris, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds for her 75th straight double-double, made three baskets in a 17-2 run that gave the Sooners a 66-50 edge.
"We kept getting her isolated at the block and you're going to have trouble guarding her one-on-one," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said.
Coale resorted to an offensive set with four players on the perimeter and Paris alone inside after Paris' twin sister, Ashley, went to the bench with foul trouble. It ended up looking like sheer genius.
"We went to four out, one in and we were able to get some good looks off of it," Paris said.
Paris went 7-for-13 from the field to snap a stretch of six straight games in which she had failed to make more than half of her shots. Paris, a 6-foot-4 center who takes most of her shots from right around the basket, was 32-for-77 (42 percent) during a monthlong shooting slump.
She was 3-for-4 during Oklahoma's big run, putting back her only miss and also setting up Robinson's layup that finished the run.
"I thought her rhythm was better than it had been all year. I felt like she slowed down and saw things and read things and attacked weaknesses and was just more relaxed and more intent," Coale said. "I thought her focus was very, very good."
Even with Oklahoma's offensive switch, Cornhuskers coach Connie Yori didn't intend for her team to have any defender isolated against Paris.
"I thought we kind of lost our defensive focus. We didn't send the double team very quickly nor at all in some cases. Just like everybody, we're trying to double and we don't want to give her those one-on-one opportunities," Yori said.
"We've got a young team and we got lost a few times, and all of a sudden there's no double-team. She's looking at it going, 'Hey, I haven't seen this for a while."
Amanda Thompson added 15 points and eight steals, and Jenna Plumley scored 11 as Oklahoma bounced back after a 19-point loss to rival Oklahoma State.
Yvonne Turner led Nebraska (13-4, 2-1) with a career-best 18 points, and Danielle Page scored 12. Kelsey Griffin, the Huskers' leading scorer with a 12.3-point average, was held to seven points.
Nebraska committed a season-high 25 turnovers, which led to 32 Oklahoma points.
"Obviously their defensive pressure bothered us, but as a group we gave away plenty of those and it looked like a layup drill," Yori said. "And they made their layups.
"They didn't really have to execute a lot offensively because we were just giving them the ball."
The Cornhuskers trailed 21-9 midway through the first half after Oklahoma went on a 16-2 run, but clawed their way back to pull to 30-29 on Turner's two free throws with 3:40 remaining before halftime.
Nebraska finally tied it on a layup by Griffin in the opening minutes of the second half, but Page and Cory Montgomery each missed shots that would've put the Huskers ahead and Tay Hester came up empty on a 1-and-1 chance before Paris got the Sooners got back on track.
"You can't guard her one-on-one on the low block," Page said. "As a team, I thought we did really well guarding her for a while there. That little run they made to kind of push the game out of reach, I thought that she just kind of took over."
Oklahoma has won nine of the last 10 games in the series.