Paris extends double-double streak as Oklahoma cruises

NORMAN, Okla. -- Because it was tucked between showdowns against North Carolina and top-ranked Connecticut, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale viewed Wednesday night's game against Marist as the quintessential trap.

The Red Foxes were even flying just under the radar as the top vote-getter outside the Top 25 this week, and she feared how her team would approach the game.

As it turns out, she had no reason to worry.

Freshman guard Whitney Hand scored a career-high 20 points and Danielle Robinson added 17 points and a career-best eight assists as the fourth-ranked Sooners beat Marist 83-57 to head into their showdown with the No. 1 Huskies on a positive note.

"I think we kind of needed to come out with a sense of urgency," Robinson said. "Tonight was a big game. Not looking at UConn coming up on Sunday, but we had to focus on tonight."

Hand scored nine quick points as Oklahoma (4-1) opened the game on a 17-2 run, keeping Marist from hitting a field goal for the first 6 minutes, and it was never close again. The Red Foxes got back within 10 before another drought of 6 minutes later in the half, and Hand's 3-pointer capped a 12-0 run to push the lead to 37-15.

That washed away the memory of an 80-79 loss to North Carolina in the finals of the Women's Preseason NIT on Sunday, especially for Hand -- who went 1-for-7 from 3-point range and also missed her only shot from inside the arc against the Tar Heels.

"I think the fact that she really wanted the ball, based on how poorly she shot it against Carolina, that she came out of the gates wanting the ball and wanting to make something happen is a terrific sign both for her individual mentality and for our collective mentality," Coale said.

Hand's hot hand lightened the load for All-America center Courtney Paris, who needed a season-low 22 minutes to extend her streak of double-doubles to 97 straight with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Her twin sister, Ashley Paris, added 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

Rachele Fitz scored 17 points and Erica Allenspach added 10 for the Red Foxes (3-1), the preseason favorite in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Marist coach Brian Giorgis, who said he had been an Oklahoma football fan for more than 40 years, arrived to find a football that had been signed by Barry Switzer, who led the Sooners to three national championships, and by current coach Bob Stoops.

"It was all downhill after this," said Giorgis, holding up the ball at his postgame news conference.

Marist got closer than 20 points only once in the second half, following a 10-0 run that closed the gap to 65-46. Coale then put her starters back in, and the Red Foxes' surge came to an abrupt end.

Next up for the Sooners is a trip to Connecticut on Sunday to face the No. 1 Huskies, who they've never beaten in six tries. It could be their last chance with the Paris twins, unless the teams meet again in the NCAA tournament.

"Coming off the loss to North Carolina, I knew that we had another big week this week and it started with tonight," Robinson said. "I came out and played hard and I tried to do what I needed to do to spark the team. That's what a point guard does is just get the team started."