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Oklahoma Beats Texas A&M, Clinches Title

February 19, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Ninth-ranked Oklahoma clinched its first Big 12 Conference regular-season title in four years and extended its winning streak to 11 games, beating No. 21 Texas A&M 73-54 Saturday night.

Courtney Paris had 15 points and 14 rebounds for Oklahoma (23-4, 13-0), which is seeking to become the first Big 12 team to go undefeated in conference play. The Sooners’ remaining schedule includes road games at Kansas State and Texas Tech sandwiched around a home game against Nebraska.

The conference title is the fifth for the Sooners, who also won the Big 8 in 1986 and the Big 12 in 2000, ’01 and ’02 _ the last when they finished as the national runner-up. Oklahoma’s winning streak is its longest since winning 10 straight before losing to Connecticut in the 2002 national championship game.

Oklahoma’s postgame celebration was somewhat subdued, although the Sooners did gather at midcourt, wave to the crowd and hold up their index fingers during a singing of their alma mater.

Texas A&M (19-7, 8-5), ranked for the first time since the end of the 1996 season when it was in the Southwest Conference, lost its second straight game. The Aggies have lost 11 straight games at Oklahoma’s Lloyd Noble Center.

Oklahoma never trailed, but Texas A&M pulled even at 37-all with 15:37 left. Britney Brown then keyed the Sooners’ 11-4 run with two 3-pointers and an assist on a bucket by Paris.

The Sooners eventually pushed their lead to 12 points before Texas A&M rallied to within 59-52 with 3:43 left. However, Oklahoma scored the next nine points to seal the win. The margin of victory was the Sooners’ largest lead.

The Aggies slowed the 6-foot-4 Paris somewhat, running two big defenders at her _ 6-foot-3 LaToya Michaeux and 6-foot-6 Lenka Zimova _ and holding her to her third-lowest point output of the season. Still, Paris recorded her 24th double-double of the season and her 19th in a row, both Big 12 records and tops in NCAA Division I this season.

Paris also had a team-high five assists.

Oklahoma made only 1-of-11 3-point attempts in the first half but still led 32-28 at halftime. The Sooners scored the game’s first seven points and led by as many as 12 points before Texas A&M, which had just 14 points in the first 16 minutes, went on a 14-6 run to close the half.

Leah Rush scored 14 points for Oklahoma while Chelsi Welch added 12 for the Sooners, who committed only 10 turnovers.

Morenike Atunrase led the Aggies with 16 points but went just 6-of-16 from the field. Texas A&M shot 36.2 percent from the field, compared to 44.8 percent for the Sooners.

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