Oklahoma Downs Georgia Tech, 69-50
March 24, 2009
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -Oklahoma didn't need a double-double from Courtney Paris to get to the round of 16. The Sooners are moving on to Oklahoma City thanks to stellar defense, spectacular outings from their young guards and, of course, the post presence of the Paris twins.
Sophomore point guard Danielle Robinson scored 17 points and had seven assists, freshman guard Whitney Hand added 15 and the top-seeded Sooners beat Georgia Tech 69-50 Tuesday night to advance to regional semifinals.
Oklahoma will now face fourth-seeded Pittsburgh in Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Courtney Paris finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and six blocks - missing out on a double-double for just the eighth time in 134 career games - but she had three quick blocks early in the second half to key a 27-11 run by Oklahoma (30-4) that put the game out of reach.
Ashley Paris added eight points and 16 rebounds. The Paris twins had 19 defensive rebounds, one more than Georgia Tech had as a team, and Oklahoma thwarted Georgia Tech's hopes for an upset by forcing them to miss 13 of their 15 shots to start the second half.
"We've had spans of defending very well this year, and adherence to the game plan is the thing. It's five guys being on the same page and doing what we discussed and deploying the strategy," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said.
Georgia Tech (22-10) finished the first half on a 21-11 run to tie the game at 29 by halftime, and it looked like the Yellow Jackets might make a serious run at the Sooners despite playing without injured star Alex Montgomery, their leading scorer and rebounder.
But Robinson, who shot 5-of-5 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line, opened the second half with an impressive steal and layup. She followed it with perhaps her only mistake of the night, picking up a technical foul after celebrating the play, but it didn't hurt the Sooners one bit.
Hand buried a 3, Ashley Paris hit an inside bucket - her first after seven misses - and Robinson went baseline for a backhanded layup to help put Oklahoma ahead 42-32.
Robinson pushed that lead to 50-36 on a pair of free throws, and Carlee Roethlisberger hit a pair of layups to make it 56-40 with 8:10 left.
Robinson's quickness was on display all night, as she keyed Oklahoma's transition offense and broke free for a few layups through traffic.
"Danielle jump-started us. There's no doubt about that," Coale said. "She runs through passing lanes and gets a wide-open layup and everybody goes a little bit harder the next time."
The Yellow Jackets hopes truly went out the window with just over 4 minutes left. Courtney Paris missed an inside basket after the Sooners had run down the shot clock, but Ashley Paris was right there for a putback to give Oklahoma a 60-45 lead.
Deja Foster had 15 to lead Georgia Tech (22-10), which shot just 5-of-29 in the second half. That paled in comparison to Oklahoma, which was 17-of-31 from the field after the break.
"Their perimeter shooting was just phenomenal," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said.
The Yellow Jackets looked more like a rambling wreck early on. Georgia Tech missed 13 of its first 16 shots, and Robinson broke the press with a full-court dash and assist, followed by a 15-footer and a quick layup, to put the Sooners up 16-6 midway through the first half.
But Courtney Paris sat for nearly 6 minutes late in the opening half with a pair of fouls, giving Georgia Tech more open space to work with. The Yellow Jackets slowly chipped away at the lead until the game was tied at 29-all.
The first 20 minutes weren't kind to the Paris twins. Ashley was 0-of-6 from the field, though she did grab seven rebounds.
Georgia Tech was none too pleased about getting a No. 9 seed and being shipped off to play Iowa in the first round. The Yellow Jackets were impressive against the Hawkeyes, pounding them 76-62 on their home floor while outscoring Iowa 46-12 in the paint, but they couldn't establish that inside dominance against the Sooners.
Oklahoma could not have asked for a better road to the Final Four. The Sooners will face the Panthers just a short drive away from their campus, with either sixth-seeded Purdue or seventh-seeded Rutgers looming in the regional finals.
While Courtney and Ashley Paris give the Sooners a decided edge against almost anyone inside, Robinson and Hand showed Tuesday night that they can make opponents pay if they focus too much on the Paris twins.
"They certainly don't act like a freshman and a sophomore," Courtney Paris said. "We're really going to need them if we're going to continue to win in this tournament."