NORMAN — Oklahoma women’s shooting guard and leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg managed just 23 points on 7-of-30 shooting over two games at the Big 12 tournament.
Sooner coach Sherri Coale has expressed confidence Ellenberg, who’s averaging 18.5 points, will rebound at the NCAA tournament. For one reason, because she hardly ever endures back-to-back bad games, much less three straight.
There is, though, yet another reason to believe Ellenberg might shine in Columbus, Ohio, where the Sooners meet Central Michigan in first-round NCAA tournament action beginning at 10:10 Saturday morning inside St. John Arena.
She’s done it before.
Ellenberg had what remains the biggest game of her collegiate life in the same arena on Dec. 5, 2010, when she poured in 34 points against then-No. 6 Ohio State.
Only her eighth game in crimson and cream, Ellenberg hit 13 of 24 shots, 5 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc and even dished three assists to go with five rebounds in a 95-84 loss to the Buckeyes.
Missing from St. John Arena this weekend will be the Buckeyes, who failed to receive an NCAA tournament bid after finishing the season 18-13 with a 7-9 mark in the Big 10.
First-round success: The Sooners will probably have to land a bit of an upset to return to Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena for the Sweet 16. The winner of Saturday’s Sooner-Central Michigan game will play the winner of UCLA-Stetson Monday.
UCLA is 11th-ranked and a No. 3-seed. But if past is prologue, though, OU should get the chance.
The Sooners, whose streak of 14 straight NCAA tournaments is the seventh-most active run, has won seven straight first-round matchups.
After losing to Arizona at the 2005 tournament, OU has since made a first-round victim out of Pepperdine, Southeast Missouri State, Illinois State, Prairie View A&M, South Dakota State, Miami and Michigan. The Sooners won their next game in four of those seven seasons: 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Layups: OU’s head trainer, Carolyn Loon, graduated from Ohio State in 1999 … Ellenberg blocked three shots her first 82 games as a Sooner, but has 10 in her last 19 games. Ellenberg is generously listed on the roster as 5-foot-7 … The Sooners and Central Michigan have never met … Of all NCAA statistical categories, OU ranks highest in 3-point percentage. It’s 37-percent mark is 10th in the nation. The Sooners rank lowest in steals, grabbing six per game to rank 321st.
Send-off: The Sooners are leaving Lloyd Noble Center at 7:45 a.m. this morning and will welcome well-wishers wishing to send them off in style. Fans are being encouraged to arrive early and park in the southeast portion of the arena’s lot. Sooner spirit squads and band will be part of the early-morning festivities.
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