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Oklahoma Outplays Colorado, 94-60

March 26, 2002

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ Chalk up another major accomplishment for Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale: a trip to the Final Four.

LaNeishea Caufield scored 25 points and Stacey Dales had 20 as top-seeded Oklahoma rolled past No. 3 Colorado 94-60 on Monday night in the West Regional final, sending the Sooners to San Antonio.

Caufield shot 5-for-5 in the second half and scored 14 points during a 32-6 second-half run that guaranteed Oklahoma (31-3) of becoming the first Big 12 team ever to reach the Final Four.

Jamie Talbert and Rosalind Ross each scored 12 for Oklahoma, which lost in the NCAA tournament’s third round the past two years. Coale, in her sixth season, has a Final Four to go with three straight Big 12 titles.

As the clock went under 1 minute, Oklahoma fans chanted, ``Final Four, Final Four.″ The players put on their championship T-shirts as Colorado’s Virginie Delepine shot free throws at the other end of the floor.

Oklahoma will play Duke in Friday’s national semifinals. The Blue Devils advanced by winning the East Regional, 77-68 over South Carolina.

Eisha Bohman led Colorado (24-10) with 18 points but the Buffaloes committed 29 turnovers, 15 above their season average.

The Buffaloes used their superior size to hang with Oklahoma through the first six minutes of the second half. Colorado pulled within 46-42 when Tera Bjorkland completed a three-point play with 15:35 to go.

But that’s when Caufield took aim and the Sooners simply flattened the Buffaloes, who couldn’t hold back the flood gates despite a series of timeouts by coach Ceal Barry.

The Sooners will join the men’s team in the Final Four.

It was another big night for Oklahoma’s small but spunky coach. Coale, who stands 5-foot-5, won two state titles in seven years at Norman High School before taking over the Sooners.

In six seasons, she’s built Oklahoma into a national title contender. Even more remarkable, the program was dropped in 1990 until national coaches led a protest that led to its reinstatement eight days later.

Oklahoma beat Colorado for the fifth straight time, overwhelming the Buffs with a fastbreak offense that never stopped, not even when Coale cleared the bench with 4:09 to play.

The starters left to a standing ovation from the Oklahoma fans.

The Buffaloes wore the letters ``SNR″ on their left hands, short for ``Still No Respect.″ They’ve complained of being overlooked by the news media and had ``NR″ for ``No Respect″ written on their hands when they beat Stanford on Saturday.

That approach worked for a while.

With Bohman hitting midrange jumpers, the pesky Buffaloes, in the regional finals for the third time in nine seasons, trailed 37-33 at halftime and hung with the Sooners early in the second half.

That’s when Caufield got hot, connecting from long range on the right side. Caton Hill added a bucket during the spurt, and Dionnah Jackson converted a steal into a layup.

The Oklahoma bench got louder with every basket, and it was pandemonium for the Sooners and their fans when Rosalind Ross hit a 3-pointer for a 66-45 lead with 8:34 remaining.

The advantage continue to swell, reaching 82-51 with 4:51 to play when Caufield made a steal, tossed the ball to regional Most Valuable Player Dales, who finished the break with a dish to Jackson for a layup.

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