Rarely does a team’s best shooter find herself open on a game-winning possession.
No. 19 Oklahoma defied those odds Saturday when redshirt senior Peyton Little stood alone in the corner with three seconds to shoot.
Swish. Game over. A defensive lapse offered an opening, and Little buried a corner dagger on a long inbounds pass to snap No. 8 Texas’ 19-game winning streak and hand the Longhorns their first conference loss of the season, 74-73.
Junior guard Brooke McCarty poured in 16 points and senior Kelsey Lang added 13, but the Longhorns failed to execute down the stretch. While the winning streak ended, another streak continued — Texas hasn’t won in Norman since 2010.
Home court advantage continues to be the difference maker between these Big 12 rivals, with the road squad coming up short in the last nine meetings.
“We definitely wouldn’t have wanted Peyton Little to get an open three,” said head coach Karen Aston. “That’s happened to us two years in a row here at Oklahoma and I have no idea why we would think that wouldn’t be an option in the corner. But again, that’s just one play. There were a whole lot more.”
Oklahoma center Vionise Pierre-Louis had her way with the Longhorn frontcourt, finishing with a game-high 21 points on 8-12 shooting in just 23 minutes of play. The junior fouled out with 8:33 left in regulation, but Texas was unable to capitalize on the 6-point lead at the time.
Drawing on a roaring crowd, the Sooners connected on a triple and then a quick layup to grind the Longhorns’ momentum to a halt, making it a one-point Texas lead with under seven minutes to play. The two teams exchanged buckets, neither able to gain an edge until an Oklahoma layup tied the score at 70 with 50 seconds left in the ball game. From there, Little did what she does best — bury clutch triples.
The window of opportunity hadn’t closed yet and Texas had an opportunity to force overtime for a second-straight game. Down 73-70 with two seconds to get off a shot, a turnover on the inbounds resulted in a quick foul from Joyner Holmes. A free throw by Oklahoma iced the game with a four-point lead.
“Again, you have a chance to win and just made some mistakes down the stretch. Didn’t execute things. Didn’t stay on a string together very well today,” Aston said. “We’ll look back at it and there will be some possessions that we definitely would like to have back.”
Oklahoma earned its fifth win in a row to move to 21-6 on the season, third in the Big 12.
The Longhorns face a quick turnaround for what is shaping up to be the most important matchup of the season for them and No. 4 Baylor. The Lady Bears head to Austin Monday for the battle of Big 12 supremacy.
Texas won the first matchup on Feb. 6 in Waco, ending the Lady Bears’ 21-game winning streak and handing them their sole conference defeat. Both teams sit atop the conference standings at 14-1.
In spite of the rapid turnaround, Aston is confident her team will come out prepared to defend home court.
“Quick reset,” Aston said. “We’ve had three of these in a row now, and we know how to do it. And we just have to go home now and get ourselves ready for Baylor.”