Oklahoma has made its climb from relative obscurity this season to its current No. 16 ranking in the latest top-16 Division I Women’s Basketball Committee reveal the old fashioned way, one game at a time.
The Sooners, 21-6 overall and in sole possession of third place in the Big 12 Conference with a 12-3 record, currently own the league’s longest active winning streak with five straight victories following a 74-73 win over No. 8 Texas on Feb. 18 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Peyton Little hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with two seconds remaining and Nancy Mulkey had a key steal and free throw to secure Oklahoma's seventh straight home win over the rival Longhorns, who entered Saturday's game with the nation's second-longest winning streak at 19 games.
Vionise Pierre-Louis led four Sooners in double figures with 21 points, despite fouling out with two minutes to go. Little contributed 15 and knocked down three 3-pointers. Gabbi Ortiz had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Gioya Carter poured in 10 points. Chelsea Dungee led the Sooners in rebounding for the first time in her career with seven rebounds and dished out a career-high five assists.
Back on Jan. 29 it looked like Oklahoma’s run of being ranked in the Associated Press Poll for 38 consecutive weeks (tied for the 10th-longest active streak in the country) was in serious jeopardy. A 92-58 setback at Baylor that night had dropped the Sooners to 16-6 overall. Sherri Coale’s squad bounced back following the loss to score wins over Kansas, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Texas. The school now has been in the AP poll 258 times since she walked on campus in 1996.
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This Sooners roster is experienced.
Entering Tuesday's game at Kansas State, Oklahoma’s roster boasts 385 career starts among 10 players who have made at least one career appearance in the Sooners' starting five. The foursome of Carter, Little, Ortiz and Maddie Manning have combined to make 306 starts between them. The Oklahoma bench is laden with experience, including T'ona Edwards and Pierre-Louis who have played in 119 and 90 career games, respectively.
Over the last three games, junior center Pierre-Louis has anchored Oklahoma’s offensive production, averaging 21.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest. Pierre-Louis is averaging 15.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over the last five contests.
Oklahoma next will be looking for its sixth straight victory and its seventh win in the last eight games when they travel to Kansas State (19-8, 9-6 Big 12) on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The Sooners won the first meeting between the two teams in Norman on Jan. 4 85-80 in overtime.
Honorable mention teams of the week: Belmont, Bethune-Cookman, Creighton, Drake, Little Rock, Mississippi State, New Hampshire, New Mexico State, Temple and UC Davis.