Coale apologizes for Sooners' performance against Gators

Oklahoma freshman guard Shaina Pellington drives to the basket Sunday at Lloyd Noble Center. Pellington led the Sooners with 22 points in their 80-61 loss to Florida.

Joshua Gateley / For The Transcript

NORMAN, Okla. — Though Oklahoma women’s basketball has long been a winning operation, it has nonetheless come with specific low moments between the victories.

There was a home-court loss to North Texas last season, a 31-point Bedlam setback in Stillwater the season before, a 29-point home-court loss to Texas in 2011.

Saturday may have marked a new low.

“I just want to apologize to our fans,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “I haven’t seen an Oklahoma team play that poorly in 15 years.”

Sunday’s 80-61 Lloyd Noble Center loss to Florida, part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, marked OU’s third straight defeat.

Additionally, the Sooners have failed to score 20 points in 6 of 8 quarters, failed to score more than 15 in 5 of 8 and are stuck with their first losing record seven games into a season since beginning 3-4 — the same record they have now — in 1997.

The only positive for OU was reserve freshman guard Shaina Pellington, who finished 11 of 17 from the floor to finish with 22 points, almost all of them on drives to the basket. The rest of the team shot a collective 26.2 percent (16 of 61).

Freshman guard Ana Llanusa added 13 points on 5 of 15 shooting. Graduate guard Maddie manning finished with 11, also on 5 of 15 shooting.

OU hit 3 of 20 from 3-point land, senior shooting guard Gabbi Ortiz did not score for the first time since the 2016 Big 12 tournament and senior center Vionise Pierre-Louis, though never in foul trouble, hit 1 of 8 shots and finished with four points and three rebounds.

The Sooners did not attempt a free throw until 7:35 remained in the third quarter. They were out rebounded 56 to 31.

“When you’re rocked, you look for a leader,” Coale said, wrapping her knuckles on the table in front of her, where she sat alone during the postgame media session. “Who’s your leader? Who’s going to put the anchor down and say, ‘This is who we are. This is who we are and this is what we’re going to stand for and what we’re not going to stand for. We’re not going to settle.’”

A shocking display of ineptitude, it may not have been entirely surprising, as Coale said, “We have not had a good practice since the day before the Oregon game [on Nov. 25].”

OU pulled even, 17-17, for the last time 8:56 before the half.

The Sooners did not score a point from the 5:14 mark of the second quarter until the 7:35 mark of the third.

From down 14 points, OU rallied behind three straight buckets from Pellington to climb within 47-40 to begin the fourth quarter.

The Sooners never pulled any closer.

“The game plan was to reverse the basketball,” Coale said. “We got our first reversal with about two minutes to play in the first quarter, the first one. You should reverse it multiple times on every possession because they weren’t guarding some guys.”

Anderson finished with 29 points, Funda Nakkasoglu with 24 and Delicia Washington with 11 for Florida. Washington led everybody with 15 rebounds.

What’s next for OU is a good South Dakota State team on the Jackrabbits’ (6-2) home floor Wednesday.

What’s wrong must begin to be fixed quicker than that, Coale believes.

“You know where it starts? In practice … with us not having to challenge effort for an hour and a half every day,” she said. “Players coming in and playing hard and putting their heart in the middle of the 94-foot floor.”

It didn’t happen Sunday.

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