NORMAN — It’s not about revenge.
It is, though, something.
“I think, for all of us, it was like an out-of-body experience,” explained senior forward Joanna McFarland. “We did not have a good game. It was not who we are.”
McFarland was referencing the Oklahoma women’s 82-61 loss to Iowa State on Jan. 15 at Hilton Coliseum.
It was the Sooners’ first loss after four straight wins to open Big 12 Conference play, yet it was the way they lost that’s remembered most as OU prepares to welcome Iowa State into Lloyd Noble Center at 7 tonight.
The game couldn’t be bigger in the conference standings. Both the No. 22 Sooners (18-5, 8-3 Big 12) and the Cyclones (17-5, 8-4) are angling to finish second in the regular-season league race and take the No. 2 seed at the Big 12 tournament into Dallas the second week of March.
Still, OU’s primary motivator may be its collective memory of an unfortunate trip to Ames, one that places McFarland smack in the middle.
While every other Sooner starter played at least 31 minutes, McFarland played only 25. Two early first-half fouls took her off the court and with her seemed to go OU’s chances.
“We were embarrassed on the boards. We were just annihilated on the defensive end,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “We just did not block out.”
The Cyclones enjoyed a 47-27 rebounding advantage as OU failed to recover from McFarland’s first-half departure. Even when she returned in the second half, the psychological damage was done.
In her last eight games, McFarland has averaged 13 rebounds. But in the middle of such a tremendous run was her lackluster six-rebound night in Ames.
“Her importance on the floor against (Iowa State) is maybe more so than against any other because of what their post combo can do,” Coale said. “(Anna) Prins can go out and shoot it. (Chelsea) Poppens fights until the final buzzer and will fight for every rebound and Jo’s our fighter. It’s real important in this game for Jo to be on the floor.”
There are other things from the first meeting the Sooners’ can’t afford to repeat.
They can’t afford to hit less than a third (19 of 60) of their shots and for two of their leaders, Morgan Hook and Aaryn Ellenberg, to combine to make only 7 of 30 shots and 4 of 16 from beyond the 3-point arc. And they probably don’t want to wait until the game’s fifth minute to make their first field goal.
Indeed, so much didn’t go right that night at Hilton Coliseum, Coale’s kind of thankful for it in a backhanded way.
“It’s not such a sore spot because it’s the spot from which we’ve grown,” she said, “that woke us up and said, ‘Hey, we better figure out how to do this or we’re going to be in trouble.”
The sting, though, remains.
“It’s those games where you’re not yourselves, or you don’t play as well as you should or you left something on the floor,” McFarland said. “Those are the ones that just eat at you, and that’s why I think we’re ready to go, ready to erase that bad memory and leave a better one.”
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