Nov. 11—Coming out of the third quarter media timeout, Oklahoma's double-digit lead had shrunk to single digits for the first time since early in the second quarter.
The Sooners subbed out Taylor Robertson, Ana Llanusa and Kiersten Johnson for Tucker Kennady, Aubrey Joens and Skylar Vann. On the first possession out of the break, the Sooners found Joens open in the corner.
The junior guard knocked down the 3-pointer to give the Sooners a double-digit lead, but SMU came right back with a quick layup on the other end. Oklahoma's offense wasn't done yet, though, finding Nevaeh Tot at the top of the key and Madi Williams on the wing on the next two possessions to extend the lead to 12.
A little over two minutes later, the Sooners were looking to hold the ball for the last possession of the third quarter, but pressure by the Mustangs' guards left the Sooners scrambling. With just a few seconds remaining, Williams got a loose ball at the top of the key and quickly fired at the rim as time expired.
The shot found the bottom of the net, giving the Sooners a 75-59 lead heading into the final quarter. The Mustangs wouldn't be able to get any closer in what became a 97-74 win for Oklahoma at the Lloyd Noble Center.
"I thought we did some really great things and we have some things that we have to work on," OU head coach Jennie Baranczyk said. "We kept putting them on the free throw line, we've got to rebound a little bit better, but at the same time I really love how Madi's setting the tone, she's doing it every day and it's really translating I think into the games."
Williams finished with a game-high 25 points, scoring 10 times from the field on just 14 attempts. The redshirt senior forward was also a perfect three for three from behind the arc and added five rebounds and four assists.
Of those 25 points, 12 came in the third quarter alone on a perfect four for four shooting and two threes.
It wasn't just Williams that was finding success from outside.
Oklahoma had 14 makes from behind the arc on 23 attempts (61%) and six different players finished the game with multiple 3-pointers made. Taylor Robertson made two of her three attempts from deep and finished with nine points.
Joens knocked down three of four attempts from behind the arc, finishing with 13 points while scoring her 100th career 3-pointer.
"I think there were some really, really great possession today, especially with us being able to share that ball," Baranczyk said. "Our spacing's continuing to get better and better, but at the same time there's some moments where the coach in me is like: Well, we've got a long way to go."
Oklahoma struggled to get separation from the Mustangs early in the game due to fouling and rebounding. SMU still managed to out-rebound the Sooners by double digits (43-30) despite losing by 23 points.
SMU went to the free throw line 28 times and made 24 of its attempts from the line, while the Sooners were 15-18 from the charity stripe. Six different Sooners had three or more fouls in the game and Liz Scott fouled out after playing just 12 minutes.
Still, the Sooners had lots of positives to take away from the performance on the defensive side of the ball.
The Mustangs shot 35% from the field in the game and were six of 24 from behind the arc. The Sooners also forced 18 turnovers which they were able to turn into 13 points on the other end.
"I thought a lot of our fail-outs are bailouts, or on those loose balls or finishing the play," Baranczyk said about the defense. "That just can't happen, those are things that we've just got to be better at.
"I think forcing the turnovers, when we are in great team defense, it's really hard getting it into that paint and that's really what they wanted to do. I thought we did a better job in this game in terms of the paint."
Oklahoma improves to 2-0 on the season with the win. The Sooners only have one more game inside the Lloyd Noble Center this month, and that won't be until Nov. 30 against Northwestern State.
Before then, they'll be on the road to face BYU and Utah next Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to the Maggie Dixon Classic in Fort Worth, Texas.
Tarik Masri is a sports reporter for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org