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Olajuwon scores 23 as No. 20 Sooners top TCU 74-70

Nov 21, 2009 - 11:07 PM By JEFF LATZKE AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla.(AP) -- With No. 20 Oklahoma struggling from the perimeter and still adjusting to the departure of All-American Courtney Paris to the WNBA, the Sooners are finding a new inside presence to rely on.

Abi Olajuwon scored a career-high 23 points and Danielle Robinson added 16 as the Sooners bounced back from their first loss of the season to beat TCU 74-70 on Saturday.

Olajuwon, the daughter of former NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon, steadied Oklahoma (2-1) inside during a second straight poor performance from 3-point range. She made 11 of her 15 shots, while the Sooners connected on just 27 percent of their 3-point attempts.

"She carried us offensively," coach Sherri Coale said. "She did a very nice job of taking rhythmic shots. She didn't rush, forced them to eventually start bringing a double team.

"I just thought she was real patient and tough around the basket, and did exactly what we asked her to do."

Oklahoma, which made only five of its 21 attempts from 3-point range in a 62-51 loss to Georgia on Sunday, went 6 for 22 against TCU. After ranking third in the Big 12 with 177 3-pointers last season on their way to the Final Four, the Sooners are making only 29 percent through three games this season.

"I don't know what we did get on the perimeter surrounding (Olajuwon), honestly. A lot of guys standing and staring like they'd never played basketball," Coale said. "It was a horrendous display of offensive basketball, about as poorly as you can play the game."

The Sooners missed their first seven 3-pointers before Olajuwon started carrying the load. She scored 12 of her team's final 19 points in the first half to keep Oklahoma within 34-32 at halftime. Olajuwon matched her previous career high with 16 points in the first half.

"When shots aren't falling, we can't just stop playing," said Whitney Hand, who had 13 points for Oklahoma. "The thing we did wrong is we just stopped and stared at Abi. If Abi hadn't scored, we would have lost by 20. We didn't do a lot right, honestly."

Starr Crawford led the Horned Frogs (2-1) with 19 points and 13 rebounds, guiding a late charge that cut a seven-point deficit to two in the final minute. Robinson hit two free throws with 7.2 seconds left to seal the victory.

Helena Sverrisdottir had 14 points and 10 rebounds, but also had 10 of TCU's 24 turnovers, while TK LaFleur scored 13.

"I was furious with my basketball team in terms of their execution, and that's my responsibility," TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. "I thought we were further along executing, but we're obviously not. We had numerous breakdowns and numerous players in bad areas of the floor for them, which caused a lot of turnovers."

The Sooners opened the second half on a 10-0 run as Robinson scored six points, including a pair of free throws that made it 44-36. TCU rallied back to tie it at 47 when Eboni Mangum's jumper in the lane spun in, but never led again.

Freshman Joanna McFarland answered at the other end to give Oklahoma the lead for good with 12:57 remaining, and Whitney Hand and Carlee Roethlisberger, the sister of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a run of eight straight points that stretched the advantage to 59-50.

"That's just frustrating. You go in at halftime and you talk about things and then the first two trips down the floor, we don't execute anything we talked about," Mittie said. "That's where I have to say how far along are we and how good of a basketball team are we really because good teams execute those plays."