Jan. 14—The shots simply weren't falling for Oklahoma.
The Sooners shot just 22 percent (6-of-27) from the floor in the first quarter and quickly fell into a 24-15 deficit against Kansas. They didn't fare much better in the second and third quarters, as they made just 19-of-65 shot attempts (29 percent) and entered the fourth quarter tied 53-53 with the Jayhawks.
But OU coach Jennie Barancyzk wasn't worried, and neither was her team.
The fourth quarter showed why they didn't need to be.
The Sooners made five of their first six shot attempts and opened the quarter on a 9-4 run. Their lead never dipped below two points and they eventually led by as much as 12 before securing an 80-74 victory over the Jayhawks on Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners shot 56 percent in the fourth quarter and outscored the Jayhawks 27-21.
"I think in the first quarter, I think we learned we weren't necessarily playing together," Barancyzk said. "... In the second half we came out and really started to play our game, and I thought the fourth quarter we did a really nice job of playing the way we want to play... When you have players connected at that level, it's really fun. But the winning tends to find you."
Despite their shooting woes, the Sooners found other ways to win.
The Sooners out-rebounded the Jayhawks 57-44 and held a 22-10 advantage on the offensive glass. That helped the Sooners outscore the Jayhawks 9-8 on second-chance points.
It was Liz Scott who led the effort, finishing with a game-high 15 rebounds (six offensive) to go with 10 points and four assists. She also recorded a 14 plus-minus, which led the team.
"She was just connected with her team and played," Barancyzk said. "... I thought her effort was great. Offensively when she just allowed it to come and made the reads and played off of her feel, you can't stop her and she can do some pretty amazing things."
The Sooners' defense played a key role, too.
The Jayhawks took a nine-point lead after the first quarter behind 50 percent shooting (11-of-22) from the floor. But the Sooners buckled down, limiting the Jayhawks to just 11 points in the second quarter on 19 percent shooting.
The Jayhawks shot below 37 percent in the second half and made just 4-of-15 3-point attempts for the game.
One of the pivotal defensive sequences came late in the fourth quarter. Scott stole the ball and passed it to Ana Llanusa, who found Aubrey Joens for a 3-pointer that pushed the Sooners lead to 10 with three minutes to go.
"That was awesome," Branaczyk said. "It was huge.
"I thought we did a great job defensively. I thought today was one of the best days, other than the fouls, we've had in terms of playing team defense. We were there, we were helping each other, you could see we were a unit."
Madi Williams led the way offensively with 20 points, nine rebounds, a steal and a block. Llanusa finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Taylor Robertson finished with 10 points, including two triples, and four assists.
The win improves the 19th-ranked Sooners to 14-2 on the season and 4-1 in the Big 12, which puts them atop the conference standings.
Barancyzk believes the team still has a lot of growing to do as the season continues, but the win against the Jayhawks shows the different ways the Sooners can win.
"It means we're learning and we're getting ready for March," Williams said. "This is the time where we're going to keep continuing to grow and sharpen up our skills and do all the things we do well."
Up next: The Sooners take on TCU at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.