20-9, 10-5 Conf

Sooners hand Cowgirls fifth straight loss

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma's seniors have thrived at Lloyd Noble Center during their careers and did so again on Wednesday night during their final home game.

Point guard Danielle Robinson had 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists and forward Carlee Roethlisberger had 14 points and seven rebounds as Oklahoma (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) rolled past Oklahoma State 81-66.

Oklahoma's senior class of Robinson, Roethlisberger and Lauren Willis went 55-8 at home, setting a school record for career home wins. The future looks bright, too, as freshman Aaryn Ellenberg scored 23 points for Oklahoma (20-9, 10-5 Big 12), which clinched its sixth straight 20-win season.

The Sooners will be the third seed in the upcoming conference tournament, behind Baylor and Texas A&M, regardless of what happens in their finale Saturday at Texas Tech.

Finishing third is "a huge accomplishment and as coaches we sometimes say if one ball had just rolled in, we would have been tied for first," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "But I think our kids have really battled valiantly. I'm proud of them. I'm proud of their resilience. I'm proud of the fact that we're continuing to get better."

Coale praised each of the seniors in a lengthy postgame ceremony, saving Robinson for last.

"Point guards like D-Rob make coaches look good," Coale said. "She has worked her way into being one of the best point guards in America, and it has been work."

There were no guarantees during the ceremony, like Courtney Paris famously made two years ago, when she promised Oklahoma would win the national championship or she'd pay back her scholarship. (The Sooners' season ended in the national semifinals.)

Willis, who started her career as a walk-on before Coale awarded her a scholarship, quipped, "I'm not going to promise any national championship. I'm not going to say I'm going to pay my scholarship back, because I've already paid part of it."

Willis did note that "hopefully we have about 10 games left to play," which would mean the Sooners would reach both the Big 12 tournament final and the national championship game.

Oklahoma has won eight straight games against Oklahoma State (15-13, 3-12) and 24 of the last 25 in the Bedlam series. The Cowgirls have lost five straight games overall and went 0-8 on the road during conference play this season.

Toni Young led Oklahoma State with a career-high 31 points. The Cowgirls will close the regular season at home against Texas on Saturday and could still earn a Women's National Invitation Tournament berth.

"We had our moments tonight, but the defensive lapses beat us," Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke said.

The gap between the two programs is evident from recent results and could even be seen as the teams took the court to start the game -- Oklahoma started its three seniors, who have been to two Final Fours, while Oklahoma State's lineup included three freshmen and a sophomore.

Oklahoma entered the game coming off its first two-game losing streak in three seasons, but the Sooners started quickly, as Robinson passed to Roethlisberger, who swished a 3-pointer only seven seconds into the game. Oklahoma made its first four shots and led 9-2 less than two minutes after tipoff.

"Those are the kind of players we have here, who play along throughout their careers where they're at their best in the final weeks of their senior season," Coale said.

The Cowgirls rallied to take their only lead at 20-19 on a basket by Young midway through the half, but Robinson put the Sooners ahead for good with a three-point play 9:24 before halftime.

Oklahoma led 36-30 at halftime. Vicky McIntyre scored immediately for the Cowgirls, but they missed their next seven shots and the Sooners went on a 13-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Whitney Hand that made it 49-32 with 16:08 left.

From then on, it was just a matter of determining the Sooners' final margin of victory and waiting for the annual Senior Night show.

"We've done what we've done all year," Budke said. "We find a way to play 25 to 30 minutes of good basketball. ... Against a team like Oklahoma, that's not good enough."

Oklahoma shot 50 percent from 3-point range and the Sooners finished with 14 3-pointers, their third-highest total of the season. Ellenberg had five, while Hand and Roethlisberger each added three and Willis had two.

Hand added 10 points for Oklahoma. McIntyre scored 10 points for Oklahoma State.