'Shooting the lights out': Oklahoma offense sizzles in Big 12-opening win over Texas Tech

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The Oklahoma women's basketball team showed Sunday why it has one of the most prolific offenses in the country.

The Sooners, who entered as the second-highest scoring team in Division I, hit 13 three-pointers en route to a 97-91 win over Texas Tech in the Big 12 Conference opener at United Supermarkets Arena.

Oklahoma shot 47% from the field, which included 39% from 3-point range.

"You would think when teams score that many points it's exciting to watch, at least," Lady Raiders coach Krista Gerlich said. "It was not that exciting to play against, because we've got to get stops. OU's a really good offensive team; we knew that going in. Kudos to them for shooting the lights out and continuing to just play their style of game."

The Sooners (12-1 overall, 1-0 conference) led by five at halftime before ballooning that advantage to 25 points.

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Texas Tech's Vivian Gray (12) steps away from Oklahoma's Skylar Vann (24) and Taylor Robertson (30) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.
Texas Tech's Vivian Gray (12) steps away from Oklahoma's Skylar Vann (24) and Taylor Robertson (30) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.

The teams exchanged punches in the third quarter with big runs. Oklahoma shot 7 of 7 during a 19-0 run that made it 68-43 with 5:36 in the period. The Sooners had four assists in the stretch.

"It's so fun to watch our team have fun playing," Oklahoma first-year coach Jennie Baranczyk said. "… I thought we did just a phenomenal job of just setting each other up. Some of it, we're taking those shots throughout the game. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't. But when our team has fun like that, and they set each other up like that, it's just awesome to watch. It really is."

Just as it looked like the Sooners would run away, Tech swung back with a 19-4 close to the quarter.

Vivian Gray had six points during the stretch, while Lexy Hightower and Rhyle McKinney hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to make it 72-62 heading into the final 10 minutes.

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Texas Tech's Lexy Hightower (4), Oklahoma's Skylar Vann (24) and Kennady Tucker (4) grab the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.
Texas Tech's Lexy Hightower (4), Oklahoma's Skylar Vann (24) and Kennady Tucker (4) grab the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.

However, Oklahoma's high-powered offense proved to be too much to overcome. Tech didn't cut the deficit to single digits until the last 22 seconds.

Madi Williams, who was 4 of 5 on 3-pointers, led the Sooners with 24 points. Skylar Vann hit three 3-pointers, finishing with 19 points, while top-scorer Taylor Robertson chipped in 17.

Oklahoma got off to a hot-shooting start, knocking down 4 of 7 attempts from beyond the arc in the opening frame. The Sooners led 29-17 after the first quarter, shooting 64.7% overall.

Oklahoma's offensive balance continued in the second quarter, with four players scoring at least six points in the first half. Vann, who was 3 of 5 from 3-point range in the first two quarters, led the team with 13 points. Robertson, the Sooners' top scorer, had nine points, while Williams scored seven and Nevaeh Tot six.

However, it was a successful second quarter for the Lady Raiders. Tech (7-5, 0-1) held Oklahoma to 29.4% shooting, including 2 of 9 on 3-point attempts.

Along with finding rhythm on offense, the Lady Raiders got as close as three points. Following a Sooners turnover, Hightower knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 39-36 with 3:40 before halftime.

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Texas Tech's Taylah Thomas (24) shoots the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.
Texas Tech's Taylah Thomas (24) shoots the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.

Taylah Thomas had 11 of her 13 first-half points in the second quarter, shooting 4 of 4 from the field. She also converted all three free-throw attempts. The Arkansas transfer had a three-point play just before halftime. Thomas finished with a career-high 25 points, adding a game-high nine rebounds.

"I thought Taylah played really well," Gerlich said. "I thought that she kept attacking the basket and understood what the game plan was. I thought that she was determined and played like a fifth-year senior would play, who's really trying to win a conference championship in her last year."

Oklahoma went into the break with a 46-41 advantage.

Tech enjoyed the return of Gray, who did not travel with the team to the West Palm Beach Invitational. The two games, Dec. 20 and 21, were the Lady Raiders' last action before Big 12 play. Tech canceled its final scheduled nonconference game against Incarnate Word after COVID-19 issues within the program.

It was Gray's fourth game, after she battled an ankle injury at the beginning of the season. She tallied 21 points and nine rebounds.

Sunday was also Bre'Amber Scott's first start of the season. The Arkansas-Little Rock transfer made her Tech debut Dec. 20 after dealing with an injury. That created a unique starting five, which included freshman guard Chantae Embry, a Norman, Okla., native.

Gerlich said the lineup was put together in part because of players coming off COVID-19 protocols and also to match up with Oklahoma.

"We had a lot of kids out (in protocols) and just trying to get a good group on the floor that maybe could have some energy and just have some stamina as well," Gerlich said. "But I also thought we could match up with them a little bit better, with their guards and their post players are very guard-oriented."

What's next?

Tech continues Big 12 play on Wednesday against No. 12 Texas. The Longhorns (10-1, 1-0) beat Oklahoma State 62-51 on the road Sunday to open conference action

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech basketball: Oklahoma tops Lady Raiders in Big 12 opener

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