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Sooners stumble late, fall in Second Round for third-straight year

Mar. 25—Oklahoma came closer than it had ever been to advancing to the Sweet 16 under head coach Jennie Baranczyk on Monday against Indiana.

The Sooners led by four points with 2:30 remaining, the fourth-seeded Hoosiers, fueled by a rowdy home crowd of 12,385 fans at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, ended the game on a 15-4 run to hand the Sooners' their sixth straight Second Round loss.

With a 75-68 loss, Oklahoma closes out the season 23-10.

"Obviously this is a really tough one, and I understand Indiana's a great basketball team, this is a great environment for the NCAA tournament," Baranczyk said. "This is just a little tough for us to swallow at this time."

The Sooners outrebounded the Hoosiers 48-39 with 17 offensive boards and 14 second chance points. Still, they shot 35% from the field and were 4-25 from behind the arc.

Aubrey Joens hit three of the team's four triples to finish with 16 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes coming off the bench. The rest of the team went 1-23 combined from deep.

The Hoosiers also went to the free throw line 29 times and made 22, while the Sooners were 12-13 from the line. Three different Sooners finished the game with four fouls.

Indiana has shot 40% from deep on the season, but the Sooners held it to 3-16 shooting on Monday.

Mackenzie Holmes scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 29 points on 12-23 shooting.

Skylar Vann led the Sooners with 20 points on 8-23 shooting. Freshman Sahara Williams scored 12 points with six rebounds, but no other Sooners finished in double figures.

After a string of slow starts, they shot 47% from the field in the opening quarter. It ended up being their best quarter offensively.

The Sooners were 9-3 in one-possession games coming into Monday, but showed signs of inexperience down the stretch in a big environment.

"We just needed to do a better job, especially in that fourth quarter, of really just holding our ground," Baranczyk said. "You can credit Indiana for that and also we got to get better."

The program returned just one starter from last year's team. They went 6-5 through non-conference play, dropping five of their last six before making a big turnaround through the month of January.

They were able repeat as Big 12 regular season champions and were seven points shy of their first Sweet 16 since 2013.

"I mean, this is a team that, we've gone through a lot," Baranczyk said. "We've had a lot of, it's been a little bit of a roller coaster. But I'm proud of a lot of the things that we've done. We play really hard."

The Sooners are expected to bring back a big chunk of this year's squad heading into their first season in the SEC next fall.

"We're going to let it hurt first, because it does," Joens said. "Then we're going to get back in the gym and stay connected and keep working for next season."

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