OKLAHOMA CITY — The milestone must wait.
Oklahoma’s first women’s basketball victory over Tennessee took priority Monday night over Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt and the quest for her 1,000th career win.
The second-ranked Sooners saw to that in resounding fashion, staging a stampede that trampled a 15-point first-half deficit and paved the way to an 80-70 victory before a crowd of 12,552 at the Ford Center.
Freshman Whitney Hand led four double-figure scorers with 20 points for Oklahoma (19-2). Ashley Paris scored 19.
Sooners star Courtney Paris’ NCAA record double-double streak ended at 112 games when she fouled out with nine points with 38 seconds left.
“That’s the only thing we did well,’’ Summitt said half-jokingly.
Shekinna Stricklen led No. 12 Tennessee (16-5) with 21 points. But she had just six in the second half.
To make matters worse for UT, forward Vicki Baugh limped away from a layup in the final minutes and had to be helped to the bench. She played 26 minutes and scored 11 points in her most extensive action since suffering a sprained left knee on Jan. 1. She went to the locker room afterward in a wheelchair. There was no immediate word on her condition.
Tennessee had four double-figures scorers, too. The Lady Vols also had a 33-29 rebounding advantage. But the statistics that really mattered began with their 24 turnovers.
“Some of those turnovers, quite honestly, were ridiculous,’’ Summitt said.
Oklahoma’s 53.4 percent field-goal shooting also stood out. Hand was 8-for-9 from the floor. She made four of five 3-point attempts.
“It’s not like we didn’t watch her on tape,’’ said Summitt, who remained stuck on 999 career victories. “For whatever reason, our guards didn’t defend.”
The first half played out like two halves in one.
Tennessee got the early jump, making its break after Oklahoma All-American Courtney Paris picked up two fouls inside the first five minutes and came out.
Stricklen led Tennessee’s surge. The Lady Vols freshman guard was a terror on both ends, recording four first-half steals and scoring 15 points. She swished consecutive 3-pointers, hollering for joy after the second gave UT a 32-18 lead.
At that point, Courtney Paris returned and the game’s momentum swung in whiplash-like fashion back toward Oklahoma. It wasn’t a matter of her production. She scored just one basket before the break. But her presence coincided with a 23-4 Oklahoma scoring run to conclude the half.
“We played possession by possession and pulled on that reservoir of comebacks we have,’’ said Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale, referencing the Sooners overcoming a 26-point halftime deficit against Cal on Dec. 13.
After a Glory Johnson free throw, UT went 10 possessions and more than five minutes without scoring.
OU regained the lead at 33-31 on a basket by Danielle Robinson, who had 17 points and 12 assists.
“I think we let down and we started turning the ball over,’’ Stricklen said. “We started rushing things.”
At halftime, Tennessee trailed 41-36 and was the team with the most pressing foul problem after guard Angie Bjorklund picked up three before the break.
Bjorklund picked up her fourth foul inside the first four minutes of the second half and was limited to four minutes and three points in the final 20 minutes.
Oklahoma, meanwhile, was limiting itself to seven second-half turnovers after committing 12 in the first half. The Sooners also made a point of shadowing Stricklen.
“We stopped throwing them the ball and we decided not to let Shekinna Stricklen shoot any more 3s,’’ Coale said. “That was key.”
Oklahoma pushed its lead into double figures (57-46) on Hand’s 3-pointer with 13:11 left and led by as many as 18 points.
Tennessee returns home to face SEC rival Georgia on Thursday night. At the moment, the milestone is the least of Summitt’s concerns.
“I’m concerned about this team investing in our system,’’ she said, “and not picking and choosing when they play hard.”