Feb. 10, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- With time running down and Oklahoma's primary option shut down, Nyeshia Stevenson decided to be spontaneous.
Known for her 3-point shooting, Stevenson abandoned her spot on the perimeter and charged toward the basket. Freshman Joanna McFarland saw her coming, got her the ball and Stevenson banked in the winning shot in the 12th-ranked Sooners' 62-60 overtime win against Baylor (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) on Wednesday night.
"The whole night, I had been trying to get a feel for what I needed to do in order to contribute offensively because I was going to get denied the ball and they didn't want me to get hot from the 3-point line, which they were very effective there," Stevenson said.
"I thought, `Let's try to switch it up.'"
Stevenson took into account the presence of 6-foot-8 freshman sensation Brittney Griner -- who had 17 points, 12 rebounds and 11 blocks for her second straight triple-double -- and adjusted accordingly.
"I watch a lot of men's basketball games. I see them shoot floaters," Stevenson said. "I was like, `It works in men's basketball. Maybe it'll work for me.' I shot it and it went in."
Sooners coach Sherri Coale had called a play for point guard Danielle Robinson, after it had resulted in a missed layup on Oklahoma's previous possession. Baylor (17-6, 4-5 Big 12) saw that coming, but couldn't stop Stevenson -- who connected with 14.5 seconds left.
"Ny had the presence of mind to just simply play basketball and run a back cut and I thought Jo's poise there was huge, too. She took her time and read the defense and gave her a nice pass," Coale said.
"Tough shot but Ny finished."
Amanda Thompson had 19 points, a career-high 19 rebounds, five steals and a key block for Oklahoma (17-6, 7-3) right before Stevenson's game-winner. Her defense was the key factor in holding the Bears to only one basket in overtime, Jordan Madden's 3-pointer with 3:31 left that put Baylor up 60-58.
"Every time we had to have a big play, it seemed like she made it," Coale said.
Most of the night, Oklahoma deployed at least two players to shield Griner and keep her from getting the ball. And at times, three players would surround her.
But eventually, Griner found a way to get loose as what started out as a snoozer ended up an electrifying back-and-forth contest.
Griner capped a string of eight straight Baylor points to give the Bears their first lead of the second half at 45-44 with 6:56 to play, and that started a stretch in which the lead changed hands nine times in 4 minutes.
Abi Olajuwon put Oklahoma back on top with a three-point play off a putback with 1:38 left, but Kelli Griffin sank a foul-line jumper with 42 seconds remaining to send it into overtime tied at 57.
Robinson tied it at 60 on a jumper with 2:27 left in overtime, and Thompson swiped the ball on the next two Baylor possessions -- the first time taking it out of Griner's hands and the second time getting to the ball before Griner could get it.
"We had been rotating our help based on where the ball was on the floor -- in and out, different guys being in front of Griner. She caught it a few times and in a timeout, Amanda said, `I'm just going to take it away from her,'" Coale said.
"And I thought, `Yes, I bet you will.'"
Robinson had 19 points and Stevenson finished with 12 points for the Sooners.
Griffin had 10 points and 10 rebounds but missed a potential tying shot from the right side of the lane at the end of overtime.
"Execution at the end of games is always going to be won by the upperclassmen -- the team that has the most experience and senior players. They executed," Bears coach Kim Mulkey said.
"Got to learn who's supposed to touch the ball when the game's on the line. We didn't get Griner the ball."
Oklahoma's victory brought an end to an odd trend in which the season series between the teams had been swept every season since Big 12 play started in 1996. Oklahoma had swept Baylor eight times and been swept five times.
This time, the Sooners were able to avenge a loss in Waco last month.
Both teams got off to miserable starts from the field, going a combined 7 for 42 (16 percent).
Oklahoma capitalized four trouble for Griner, who holds the Big 12 season mark for blocks only two-thirds of the way through her freshman years, to score the last 10 points of the first half -- on 5 for 5 shooting in the paint -- and claim a 27-15 advantage. Baylor has never scored fewer points in the first half of a Big 12 game.