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Sooners hold off Houston for 5th conference win

Jan. 20—On Oklahoma's first possession of the fourth quarter, Payton Verhulst stepped up and drilled her second 3-pointer of the game.

The next time the Sooners came back down the court, Verhulst drove into the lane and got a layup to fall. With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, the Sooners' lead over Houston had shrunk to one.

Three plays from the junior guard had extended the lead back up to eight. Oklahoma started the fourth quarter on a 12-5 run to extend the lead to 10 points.

The Bearcats kept it close into the final minute, but the Sooners went on to secure a 71-65 road win on Saturday.

The Sooners led for all but 1:23 of game time, but never held a lead bigger than 10.

Here are three takeaways from the Sooners' win over Houston:

1. Another 5-1 start — The win improves the Sooners to 5-1 in conference play, marking the third straight season under head coach Jennie Baranczyk.

The Sooners only won more than five conference games once in the three seasons before Baranczyk's arrival.

2. Taking over offensively — Verhulst and Skylar Vann combined to score 39 points on 17 of 28 shooting.

The pair combined to account for 52% of the team's total field goals made in the game. Verhulst was 7-13 shooting from the floor and 2-4 from behind the arc with 18 points.

The junior also added three rebounds and four assists.

Vann scored a game-high 21 points on 10-15 shooting and had five rebounds and four assists.

The Sooners turned the ball over 19 times and forced just 13 on the defensive end, but shot 52% from the field.

3. Sharing the ball — Of Oklahoma's 29 makes from the field, 23 were assisted.

Its the 11th time the Sooners have had more than 20 assists in a single game this season. Nevaeh Tot accounted for six of those assists and nine of the 11 players that saw action had at least one.

Up Next

The Sooners continue their stretch of road games next Wednesday when they face No. 11 Texas in Austin. That game is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

Oklahoma and Texas split last season's regular season conference crown.

Tarik Masri is the sports editor for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com