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Oklahoma 68, Texas 63: Longhorns implode late, fall in overtime at home

Texas' Kyra Lambert grabs a loose ball as Oklahoma's Nevaeh Tot reaches in and Skylar Vann watches at the end of the first half of the Sooners' victory Saturday at the Erwin Center.

The scoreboard at the Erwin Center read 59-58 as Texas' Charli Collier walked over to the sideline and, resigned, sat on a fold-up chair. She had just picked up her fifth foul of the day and could only watch as Oklahoma tied things up late in the fourth quarter, sending Saturday afternoon’s game into overtime.

Texas head coach Vic Schaefer also sat as he witnessed the Longhorns imploding late in the game. Once the buzzer sounded, Oklahoma players stormed the court to celebrate the 68-63 victory.

It took only a few minutes for the Longhorns (16-7, 10-6 Big 12) to spiral in a contest they’d led by as many as 13. Had Texas not missed 10 free throws and sent the Sooners to the line 29 times, maybe the Longhorns would have been the ones blasting “Mo Bamba” in the locker room postgame.

“It’s frustrating for everybody,” Collier said. “You’ve just got to take games like this and have a short memory.”

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Texas' Celeste Taylor gets tied up with Oklahoma's Gabby Gregory for a jump ball Saturday.

Before Collier fouled out, she had scored 23 points to go with seven rebounds and four steals. But it took her a bit to get things going. As she and other teammates struggled to knock down shots or found themselves in early foul trouble, JoAnne Allen-Taylor stepped up. The junior guard scored Texas’ first seven points and finished with nine of the team’s 15 in the opening period.

Then, when Oklahoma roughed her up and sent her falling onto the hardwood in the second quarter, it was Audrey Warren who came through. Warren went on a five-point run and snagged two steals.

Scrappy play was ever present in the rivalry game, fittingly. Bodies slid across the court and players struggled for the basketball all afternoon. And for a while, it seemed as if Texas was winning the fight.

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The Longhorns racked up seven personal fouls and seven turnovers in the third quarter, but they took the ball away from the Sooners five times and outrebounded them 13-6. Though lackluster, the performance was enough to give Texas a 49-36 lead to end the period.

OU went on an early run in the fourth to pull to within three. The Longhorns pulled away again, leading 55-43 with 5 minutes, 29 seconds to go, before the turnovers and fouls mounted, one after the other. With just under a minute to go in regulation, Warren went to the free-throw line but couldn’t knock down either shot. From then on, Texas seemed to be cursed from the line.

“Free throws — it’s focus,” Allen-Taylor said. “So I think we lacked focus in that area today.”

Texas' Kyra Lambert tries to get out of a trap by Oklahoma's Tatum Veitenheimer, left, and Gabby Gregory.

The real dagger came in overtime when the Sooners sank a 3-point shot to put them up with about 20 seconds to go. By then, Collier had been out of the game for several minutes, and Schaefer lowered his head.

Oklahoma, down two of its best players, was just the better team, Schaefer said. As for the Longhorns' issues, the coach said it was twofold: Their preparation wasn’t great, and they prioritized all the wrong things.

“If you’re going to be a great player, it’s not about looking cool,” Schaefer said, reprimanding his team’s lapsed attention to detail. “We’ve got some that just want to look cool while they’re playing.”

Looking cool and poor preparation won’t beat Baylor on Monday, which will be the Longhorns' senior night. When Texas traveled to Waco to face the Bears on Feb. 14, it fell 60-35 in one of its worst losses of the season.

The key to Texas’ success moving forward, Schaefer said, will be finding novel ways to win and thinking beyond the X’s and O’s — all the time.

“I pull them together every shootaround, and I say, ‘Hey, today’s game might very well be about toughness,’ ” he said. “It might not be our best day, but we’ve got to find a way to make enough plays to win a game on a day when it’s not our best day.”