Too close for comfort
No. 2 Oklahoma survives Oral Roberts 70-64
Updated: Saturday March 17, 2001 10:31 PM
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Oral Roberts got the tempo it wanted. Oklahoma got the victory.
Oklahoma survived a scare Saturday night, needing a 9-0 run late in the game to pull away and beat the Golden Eagles 70-64 in the NCAA West regional.
"We have survived and we are playing Monday night, and we are very happy about that," coach Sherri Coale said.
The second-seeded Sooners (27-5) never led by more than eight, and trailed 57-55 with just over five minutes remaining before finally taking control.
All-American Stacey Dales and Caton Hill scored 16 each for the Sooners, who will play Stanford or George Washington in the second round Monday night.
ORU coach Jerry Finkbeiner said his team had to keep a slow pace to have a chance against the Sooners, who came in averaging 83 points per game. The 15th-seeded Golden Eagles (20-11) did that, walking the ball up the floor on every possession and not allowing Oklahoma to get out and run.
"We didn't come down here to lose," Finkbeiner said. "In our minds, we were going to play close. I'm so proud of our girls."
Freshman Cori Williston scored 17 of her career-high 19 points in the second half. The Golden Eagles' leading scorer, Krista Ragan, added 14 but had only one basket in the second half and fouled out with 4:02 left.
"Our goal was to be within six points at the final media timeout," Finkbeiner said. "The problem was we didn't have our leading scorer down the stretch."
Oklahoma, which beat ORU by 31 on Nov. 18, trailed 54-51 after a Williston 3-pointer with 6:48 remaining. Hill scored inside and Rosalind Ross hit a follow shot to give the Sooners a 55-54 lead, but a three-point play by Ragan gave the lead back to the Golden Eagles.
Then Dales scored in the lane and Sunny Hardeman sank a 3-pointer, her only field goal, for a 60-57 lead with 4:32 left.
"I was like, `Man, I hope this goes in,' because it was a big shot," Hardeman said.
Finkbeiner got hit with a technical foul after reacting to the fifth foul against Ragan, who collided with Dales while chasing a loose ball.
Hardeman made one of the two technical free throws, then Dales added one of two - the miss was an airball - for a 62-57 lead.
Jamie Talbert closed out the run with an inside basket that gave Oklahoma a 64-57 lead.
Williston cut the deficit to four with a 3-pointer at the 3:17 mark, but the Golden Eagles got no closer the rest of the way.
"The goal was to stay within four or five," Ragan said. "We knew the longer that we stayed around, the pressure was going to get tighter on them."
The pressure was evident - Dales' airball was one of two by Oklahoma from the free throw line. But the Sooners made enough plays to win and move on.
"They played to survive and did an outstanding job of trying to
slow the game down," Coale said. "They were playing hard and we
were tight. We'll be fine."