What to know about Oklahoma, Notre Dame women's basketball NCAA tournament opponent Monday
Here are three things to know about the fourth-seeded host Oklahoma Sooners (25-8) as they get set to face No. 5 seed Notre Dame (23-8) in a second-round NCAA Tournament women’s basketball game at 6 p.m. ET Monday in Norman:
Return to prominence
► Oklahoma has experienced an immediate return to prominence under first-year coach Jennie Baranczyk after going 48-67 over the previous four seasons.
Baranczyk arrived last spring following the retirement of longtime coach Sherri Coale.
During years 3-21 of the quarter-century Coale era, the Sooners advanced to 19 straight NCAA Tourneys, including three Final Fours and six other Sweet 16s, but over her final four seasons, OU went just 16-15, 8-22, 12-18 and last winter’s 12-12.
A star player at Iowa as Jennie Lillis from 2000-04, Baranczyk took over the Sooners after nine years leading Drake.
Baranczyk’s Bulldog teams went 192-96. Over her final seven seasons, that included a 109-17 record in Missouri Valley Conference play with never lower than a second-place league finish.
High octane offense
► Oklahoma — No. 3 in the country in scoring at 83.2 points per game — features one of the nation’s premier 1-2 punches in 5-11 senior wings Madi Williams and Taylor Robertson.
Williams is averaging 18.3 points and 7.7 rebounds. She scored 21 in the Sooners’ 78-72 first-round win over IUPUI on the heels of tallying a season-high 33 in the team’s 91-76 Big 12 Tourney semifinal loss to No. 7-ranked Baylor.
Robertson’s at 17.1 points per game, leads the nation in made 3-pointers with 121, ranks fifth in 3-point percentage at 45.0 and almost never misses a free throw, standing 110-of-117 for 94.0%.
Sophomore forward Skylar Vann gives OU a third double-digit scorer at 11.8 points a game to go with 5.7 rebounds, those figures built over just 20.6 minutes an outing while typically coming off the bench.
Other key Sooners include freshman guard Kelbie Washington (6.7 ppg, team-leading 3.8 assists), 6-2 sophomore forward Liz Scott (6.5 ppg, 4.4 rebounds in 14.6 minutes), 5-2 sophomore guard Nevaeh Tot (6.5 ppg, 3.3 assists) and junior guard Kennady Tucker (5.1 ppg).
Has overcome big loss
► Oklahoma has overcome losing a top player to a season-ending injury in Ana Llanusa.
The redshirt senior guard was at 17.1 points per game before sustaining the leg injury during a 99-91 overtime win over then-No. 16 Brigham Young on Dec. 10 as the Sooners improved to 9-1.
Llanusa also missed all of last season with a back injury.
She has stayed engaged with her team despite her setbacks, though, with teammates typically calling her Coach Ana.
“She’s always one to give feedback,” Baranczyk said in January. “She’s still doing that. You can watch her on the floor talking through defensive rotations, you can watch her one on one on the bench telling people what she’s seen. Those are the things that she did when she was out there playing, and those are the things that she’s doing now, just in a different seat.”