FORT WORTH, Texas — Inside a minute to play, and 16th-ranked Oklahoma was sitting on its biggest lead of the game: four points.
TCU tried to inbound the ball to senior guard Kamy Cole. Sooner junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg was playing passing-lane defense and deflected the ball off Cole’s leg and out of bounds.
That led to a pair of Joanna McFarland free-throws that, barring a miracle, put the game way.
Ellenberg’s defensive gem was a huge play in the game, but only maybe one of 10 or 15 the Sooners had to make to escape Daniel-Meyer Coliseum 85-79 victors.
“What a basketball game,” said OU coach Sherri Coale, opening her postgame media session. “For anybody who thinks women’s basketball isn’t pretty, that was pretty. A lot of guys making a lot of shots. Just really sound basketball.”
There was Sharane Campbell’s driving runner that beat the shot clock and gave OU (13-2, 3-0 Big 12) its four-point edge with 51 seconds remaining. There was the driving natural three-point play from junior point guard Morgan Hook that put OU on top 79-77 with 1:33 remaining. And there was the 3-pointer from Ellenberg that put OU up 76-73 with 2:43 remaining, long after her hot start had cooled.
And there were any number of plays OU couldn’t have gone without on a night TCU (7-7, 0-3) led by five points at the half; 61-53 as late as 12 minutes remaining; 69-63 with 71⁄2 minutes remaining and, the final lead, 77-76 until Hook’s three-point trip.
Because TCU brought its best game of the season, led by the career night of Natalie Ventress, who finished with 27 points after knocking down 23 in the first half, OU couldn’t have prevailed without a couple career nights of its own.
Hook had never dished 12 assists in a game, but did Wednesday to go with 13 points, and McFarland, the senior forward, netted a double-double, matching 11 rebounds with a most-ever 24 points. Not to forget Ellenberg, who finished with 26.
“Our discipline to go inside tonight was huge,” Coale said. “Joanna McFarland, I thought, was amazing, as was Morgan, and I thought (Ellenberg’s) toughness down the stretch was really impressive.”
It had to be frustrating for both teams. Despite fantastic offensive basketball, neither could pull away.
“We were playing so well, at times, that in other games, you might be up 10 or 15 (points),” TCU coach Jeff White said. “And you look up and it’s a four-point game.”
Both teams began on a 100-hundred point pace. With 10:51 remaining in the first half, TCU led 27-25. Eventually, the heat wore off, but only so much.
The Horned Frogs finished shooting 44.6 percent (29 of 65) and 44.4 percent (12 of 27) from 3-point land. The Sooners made 49.2 percent (31 of 63), but went cold from distance, settling for 30.4 percent (7 of 23) from 3-point land.
The difference was OU’s ability to execute down the stretch on both ends of the floor.
“It came down to four minutes left and we all looked at each other and said, ‘We’re not losing this game,’” Hook reported. “We all got together and just came out fighting.”
The Sooners scored nine points over their last four possessions. The Horned Frogs scored two — the game’s last two — after OU had run off its nine.
“We didn’t want to lose this game … We just said, OK, we’ve got to do this,” McFarland said. “We’d played well, but we just had to pull it through.”
Clay HorningFollow me @email@example.com