NORMAN, Okla. — Central Arkansas battled nearly evenly with Oklahoma for more than 36 minutes Wednesday night, but the Sooners pulled away over the last three and a half quarters as the Sugar Bears fell 65-52 at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Following a basket inside from sophomore forward Mekaylan Hicks, the Sugar Bears (4-3) found themselves down just three with under four minutes to play, trailing 51-48. From then on, however, the Sooners (3-5) took over – finishing the game on a 14-4 run, fending off the Sugar Bears despite being held 26.5 points below their home scoring average and 15 points below their season scoring average.
"This was a winnable ballgame for us," Central Arkansas coach Sandra Rushing said. "We made some mental mistakes down the stretch, and we can't have the mental errors and turnovers and miss block-outs when we're playing a great team like Oklahoma. But you can see we're getting better – there were some positive things. I'm very happy with the progress we're making overall, but not happy with some of the lapses we had and how we finished the game. We're improving, but we've got a lot of work to do."
Over the final 3:09, the Sugar Bears committed three turnovers and got just two scores, while OU made five of its last six field goal attempts and added a pair of free throws.
The Sugar Bears shot just 27.6 percent in the second half (8 of 29) – though did knock down 9 of 11 free throws to finish 14 of 20 (70 percent) – while OU bounced back from a 39-percent first half by shooting 53.6 percent (15 of 28) in the second half, outscoring the Sugar Bears 39-27 after leading just 26-25 at halftime.
The Sugar Bears forced 24 OU turnovers while committing 22, and came up just six rebounds shy of matching the Sooners — the nation's 22nd-leading rebounding team — on the boards.
Oklahoma came into the game averaging eight 3-pointers per game, but were held to just 3 of 10 on Wednesday.
The 65 points was the lowest point total of the season at home for OU, which had scored 90 against Western Kentucky and 93 against Northwestern State in their first two home contests.
It was the Sooners' lowest point total in the Noble Center since scoring 52 against No. 5 Baylor on Jan. 14 of last season.
Senior guard Kamry Orr led Central Arkansas with 17 points, with Hicks adding 12 points and five rebounds.
Junior guard Taylor Sells and sophomore forward Hannah Langhi had a team-high six rebounds, with Sells adding a team-high three assists.
The Sugar Bears travel to Texas A&M on Saturday in their last game before final exams, returning to action on Dec. 17 in the Farris Center against Williams Baptist before a trip to Kansas State on the 20th.
"This game was very winnable – we just have to shoot a little better," Rushing said. "We don't have to play perfect – but we can't shoot how we shot and expect to win games like this. Now we go into Texas A&M, and that's a completely different basketball team. We're going to have to play better than we did tonight. I thought coach Long did a great job of preparing our players, we just missed out on some assignments. But we're getting better."