NORMAN, Okla. - Count to 10 for anger management. Count to 10 to reach double digits. Count to 10 to find out how many players are on Oklahoma's women's basketball roster. And add an asterisk because only eight of the 10 are on hoops scholarships; two players from the OU volleyball team were drafted to enable five-on-five practices.
The Band Of Sisters - as Shakespeare wrote it, "we few, we happy few" - is doing just fine. Oklahoma lost its fourth scholarship player when senior Whitney Hand went down with a season-ending ACL injury in early December. The Sooners' only loss since then came to Vanderbilt in the game after Hand was lost.
There are now two teams undefeated in Big 12 Conference play. Top-ranked and defending national champion Baylor is 3-0 going into Sunday's game at Kansas. The other is Oklahoma. The No. 14 Sooners are 14-2 and 4-0 following Saturday night's 65-55 victory over Texas Tech (12-4, 2-2).
"I think all the adversity that we've faced has made us even tighter," said senior Joanna McFarland, who had 14 points and 16 rebounds. "Our chemistry is greater because we have a lot of leadership on the sideline now. I think we're all just playing for those people who can't, and we're just trying to make a stand."
Texas Tech had eight players play 18 or more minutes and Monique Smalls played the most (37). The Sooners had three players play 38 or more minutes with guards Morgan Hook and Aaryn Ellenberg going the distance.
"Some nights it's tougher than others," said Ellenberg who overcame a slow start to score a game-high 26. "When I needed a break, I would take a break at appropriate times. It was 40 minutes, but it didn't seem like it was that bad."
Ellenberg was fresh enough that she could turn Mariano Rivera and close it out. She scored the Sooners' last 13 points. She started the run with a 3-pointer countered Chynna Brown, whose three made it 52-48 with 4:48 remaining and turned out to be the Lady Raiders' last hope.
Big 12 women's coaches often talk about how possessions are precious, how a failure to box out on a rebound, a late switch on a screen or a bang-bang block/charge call can make the difference in the outcome.
Texas Tech had a passel of precious possessions in the second half and too often came up empty. With the game in the balance, the Lady Raiders were unable to produce when Oklahoma was at its most vulnerable.
Even with Oklahoma's two post players in foul trouble, Texas Tech couldn't take advantage as Kelsi Baker, Christine Hyde and Jackie Patterson were a combined three of 20 from the field.
"That's unacceptable," Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry said. "Combined with the missed free throws (9 of 20), you're not gonna win too many Big 12 games. The little things make a big difference in Big 12 games.
"But I think the biggest thing is you credit Oklahoma for how they played. "
Texas Tech had a 29-28 halftime lead; OU has trailed at intermission in three of its four Big 12 victories. The Sooners slowly exerted their will in the second half. Oklahoma got its first double-digit lead when McFarland hit a 3-pointer off an in-bounds play to make it 44-33 with 13:44 remaining.
During the first 10 minute of the second half, the Lady Raiders had 17 possessions but missed 11 of 14 shots and seven of eight free throws.
"We're really showing a lot of leadership, a lot of passion, a lot of intelligence, a lot of toughness, and making plays," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "Texas Tech's a good basketball team. They're going to win a bunch of games in this league.
"Another really gritty performance by our kids. I love these guys. I'm proud of them ... I just love their spirit. I love the way they fight together. They are an absolute blast to coach."