NORMAN — It was December 2009 and the Oklahoma women headed East.
They were living life on the court without Whitney Hand, who had torn an ACL earlier in the season against San Diego State. And they had just won a crazy overtime victory over Arkansas, thanks to an amazing 41-minute, 31-point effort from Danielle Robinson.
But here they were in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to face Marist, almost a sort of Gonzaga of the women’s game, always overachieving and always difficult.
“It was only three years ago that we beat them at the buzzer at their place,” Hand said of the trip. “That was one of the most fun games I’ve ever been to.”
Hand’s memory isn’t perfect. The Sooners may have tied it at the buzzer, but they won it 80-71 in another overtime period. This time it was Nyeshia Stevenson with the career night, hitting nine 3-pointers and netting 32 points.
That Poughkeepsie classic is on the Sooners’ mind these days because it’s Marist at 2 p.m. today at Lloyd Noble Center. Also, Sooner coach Sherri Coale wants to return a favor of hospitality. Here’s what she remembers about that day in New York State.
“We went up there to play in Poughkeepsie, and it’s like a little Hoosierville,” she said. “The place was absolutely packed. Standing room only. You couldn’t hear yourself think.”
The Sooners are 6-1 and they’re playing very well over their last four games, but Marist is always good. And if Coale has her way, the Red Foxes will come to learn what a rowdy Oklahoma crowd is like.
“I want to challenge our fans … They’re coming here on Sunday afternoon, and let’s not have 3,000 people in an 11,000 seat arena,” she said. “Let’s fill this thing up and show them we can do that kind of thing here, too.”
The Sooners have won five straight games. The Red Foxes have won two straight, over Wake Forest and Hofstra. And they’re bound to play like they’ve always played.
“They move as well without the basketball as anybody we’ll play against and that includes all the big dogs … When you’re trying to guard them, they can be as good as anybody in the country,” she said. “So this is a game we have to be really focused.”
And a big crowd wouldn’t hurt either. It would certainly please the Sooner coach.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org