- Associated Press - Monday, March 23, 2015

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - With the most inexperienced team in the NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma knew there would be some growing pains this season.

Having gone from the high of a near-perfect offensive performance in the first round to struggling to make any shots in a span of 16 minutes in the second round, the Sooners hope the lessons they learned this March will pay off in the future.

Kaylon Williams scored 24 points and Gioya Carter added 20 as fifth-seeded Oklahoma wilted in the second half of an 86-76 loss to fourth-seeded Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday.

“I think the best thing for us right now is to take this lesson and grow from it and come back with a vengeance,” Williams said. “I know a lot of us are hurting right now and know this one will stick. We’ll remember this.”

The Sooners (21-12) played just one senior in this game and have plenty of building blocks in place to have an even better year next season.

The game turned in the second half when Oklahoma went cold from the field and Stanford (26-9) seemingly couldn’t miss.

“The first thing that happens when you miss shots is it takes your energy,” coach Sherri Coale said. “It’s an energy zap. You have to fight the urge to not panic as a result of that. I don’t feel like we panicked tonight but I don’t think we were quite mature enough to turn it into defensive resolve.”

Amber Orrange scored 24 points, Bonnie Samuelson and Lili Thompson had 19 apiece to help Stanford make it to its eighth straight Sweet 16. The Cardinal will play top-seeded Notre Dame (33-2) in the third round on Friday in Oklahoma City.

They have Orrange to thank for that. She kept Stanford in the game while many of her teammates struggled in the first half and combined with Samuelson and Thompson to take the game over in the final 20 minutes.

“She is unstoppable when she puts her mind to it,” Samuelson said. “You definitely saw that tonight. She is just extremely consistent night after night. When she’s being aggressive and taking those nice jumpers, she can’t be stopped.”

Oklahoma started fast with Carter scoring 16 points in the first half to help the Sooners take a seven-point led.

“I didn’t want that to be our last game so I had to come out and do anything I could,” she said.

Thompson then beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to make it 36-32 at the break and start a 15-2 run that turned the game in Stanford’s favor. Thompson, held scoreless for the first 17 minutes, had nine points in that spurt with Orrange adding two baskets.

Orrange and Samuelson hit consecutive 3-pointers that started an 11-0 run that put Stanford up 13 midway through the second half.

The Sooners made just 4 of 25 shots in a span of more than 16 minutes starting late in the first half and missed their chance to win and go home to the regional in Oklahoma City.

“This is a new thing for most of these kids to be on this stage,” Coale said. “If you don’t win this game, you don’t get to play anymore.”

TIP-INS

Oklahoma: Carter scored the first 10 points for the Sooners. … Oklahoma has lost four straight tournament games to Stanford since beating the Cardinal in the second round in 2001 at home.

Stanford: The Cardinal improved to 9-5 when trailing at the half, including wins in the first two tournament games and the Pac-12 title game. … Stanford improved to 32-4 at home in NCAA Tournament play.

FRESHMAN FOLLIES

After getting 49 points from freshmen Gabbi Ortiz, Vionise Pierre-Louis, McKenna Treece and LaNesia Williams in the first round, that quartet was held to 14 points on 4 for 12 shooting against Stanford. Throw in a 1-for-8 shooting performance from sophomore Peyton Little, and Carter and Williams got little help on the offensive end.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma: Season over.

Stanford: play Notre Dame in third round on Friday.


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