By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
DALLAS - Saturday night, as Oklahoma was rallying from a 19-point halftime deficit to shock West Virginia in a quarterfinal game, a thunderstorm rattled around outside American Airlines Center.
In Sunday's semifinal with Iowa State, the Sooners again found themselves facing a 19-point deficit as they headed to the locker room. The Cyclones made sure that lightning didn't strike twice (it was calm outside the AAC and ... enough with the weather updates).
Second-seeded Iowa State put on its second consecutive impressive performance, taking command four minutes into the game and breezing to a 79-60 victory over third-seeded Oklahoma. The victory puts the Cyclones (23-7) in Monday's title game (7 p.m., FSN) of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship against No. 1 seed Baylor.
Anna Prins, a 6-7 senior who has had a healthy season after battling injuries her first three years in Ames, had a career-high 32 points to put Iowa State into the Big 12 Championship game for the first time since 2007.
"Anna's performance was one for the ages, it will go down as one of the great performances in Iowa State basketball," said coach Bill Fennelly, whose team won both regular-season meetings with Oklahoma. "Anna, Chelsea (Poppens) and Hallie scored 56 points and made 27 rebounds.
"Anna and Chelsea (Poppens) are playing like seniors who are running through the finish line, they won't coast in. It's coming all together for them."
The Cyclones shot 46 percent from the field and had assists on 23 of their 29 field goals. Sophomore Nikki Moody ran her assist total to 218, a single-season school record.
"They have a front line that absolutely annihilated us," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. " ... They manhandled us on the inside and had great poise on the perimeter and knocked down open looks. And we didn't do the same.
"We didn't come with the same aggression on the interior. We didn't knock down perimeter shots, open ones, the way they did."
Aaryn Ellenberg, Oklahoma's leading scorer, missed 13 of 16 shots and finished with 11. All three of her field goals came from 3-point range and one ended an 0-for-12 streak that last nearly eight minutes of the first half. The Sooners came up empty on 16 consecutive possessions and that helped fuel a 17-0 Iowa State run that built a 24-10 lead.
"We started off OK, hit a few shots," Coale said. "Then we just went bone dry, just like (Saturday) night."
The Sooners shot 27.6 percent from the field and finished at 36.5 percent.
"It helps a lot knowing if we get stops on defense, it will lead to your offense," Christofferson said. "That's what we've tried, to buckle down on defense lately in these games. That's what has helped us to win lately."
Iowa State made 10 of its first 17 shots. Prins scored the last six points of the half for Iowa State for a 41-22 lead.
"I really don't know what happened out there," Prins said with a laugh. "Honestly I don't care. We got the win and we're playing in the championship game of the Big 12 tournament. I never thought I'd be able to do that."
Oklahoma set a Big 12 Championship record for its comeback against West Virginia.
"And that's really, really hard, to summon that emotion to get back up that hill again," Coale said. "You need made baskets to give you some energy and some life, and we just couldn't get a ball to roll in."