OU and Portland coaches preview Women’s NCAA Tournament game
The Associated Press - March 18, 2023 8:01 am
By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer
The University of Oklahoma women will play on Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma (25-6) is the fifth-seeded team, facing off against No. 12 Portland (23-8.)
Oklahoma coach Jennie Baranczyk isn’t frustrated that the Sooners had to go on the road for the first two rounds, but she was disappointed only one Big 12 team was selected to host.
“I think that’s unfortunate because I think we do have a lot of parity and we have some great teams in our conference,” she said. “If you spend your energy on the wrong things, you’re not spending your energy on the right things. So for us, we weren’t in any of the reveals. It wasn’t something that it was like, okay, this is what’s motivating us. We need to be better.”
The Sooners, who were the Big 12’s regular season co-champion, come in with the nation’s second-ranked offense, averaging 84.5 points per game. They are 21-0 when scoring at least 80 points per game.
Oklahoma is one of two schools in the country to have two active 2,000-point career scorers in Madi Williams and Taylor Robertson. Williams leads the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game.
Portland is playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The Pilots qualified three years ago but the tournament was not played due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our five seniors won the West Coast Conference in 2020 but didn’t have a chance to play in the tournament. I’m so excited and happy for them,” coach Michael Meek said. “I know that it was really important for them to have this opportunity. I think it’s really a relief for our staff just to allow them to have this experience.”
Portland’s roster features eight players from Australia and two from New Zealand.
Alex Fowler, who leads the Pilots in scoring at 17.8 points per game, said the key against Oklahoma will be trying to take away their perimeter shooting.
“We’re a team that likes to get other teams out of their style of play and pressure and get all over them,” she said. “So hopefully, if we’re able to do that and stop those transition buckets and their three-point game.”
The winner between the Sooners and Pilots will face either No. 4 UCLA (25-9) or No. 13 Sacramento State (25-7) on Monday. The winner of Monday’s game will advance in the Greenville 1 region.