IOWA CITY, Iowa – The season came to an end for the Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers as the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners handed them a 76-47 loss in the first round of the Oklahoma City Regional in the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the campus of the University of Iowa.
Prairie View (23-11), seeded 16th, hung tough with the Sooners early on as they trailed 18-13 at the 8:27 mark following a layup by sophomore guard Dominique Smith. Oklahoma (29-4) began to pull away from that point as they claimed its first double digit margin of the evening (23-13) after a trey by Jenny Vining and a layup from Danielle Robinson with 9:41 left in the half.
The Sooners continued to lead comfortably over the eight minutes until the Lady Panthers, making their second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, clawed back into the contest with a furious rally to close out the half.
Down by 16 with 1:41 remaining, Smith went to work for Prairie View as the Vallejo, Calif. native scored five points to key an 8-0 run that drew Prairie View to within eight at 36-28 with 10 seconds left in the half. With the momentum shifted back to Prairie View, OU managed to steal a piece of it back as the half came to an end as Robinson drove the length of the court for a layup as time expired.
The Lady Panthers continued to trail by single digits as the second half began but OU began to pull away as they went on a 19-3 run over a span that lasted 3:45 to claim a 59-35 advantage with 12:35 left. Lady Panther junior forward Gatti Werema stopped OU’s surge with a layup at the 12:21 mark but it would be too little too late as the Sooners kept their 20-point margin throughout the remainder of the contest.
Smith and Werema both paced Prairie View in scoring with 15 points apiece. Werema also grabbed seven rebounds while senior Aminata Dieye pulled down six boards in her final game as a Lady Panther. Four Sooners scored in double figures with Robinson leading the way with 15 points in 28 minutes of action.
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M POST-GAME NOTES
· Prairie View A&M finishes the 2008-09 season with a 23-11 overall record. The Panthers won both the SWAC regular season championship and conference tournament, after being picked to finish first in the pre-season.
· Sunday’s loss snapped Prairie View A&M’s 19-game winning streak. The Panthers’ last loss was Jan. 5 at Southern (63-58).
· The Panthers are now 0-2 in NCAA Tournament games. Prairie View A&M’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth came in 2007, when the Panthers fell to North Carolina in the first round. Head Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has led the Panthers to both NCAA Tournament appearances in school history.
· Prairie View A&M is now 0-7 all-time against Oklahoma.
· The Panthers were led by Dominique Smith and Gatti Werema with 15 points each. Werema, who was named the SWAC Player of the Year, also led the squad with seven rebounds.
· Prairie View A&M entered the game ranked ninth nationally in field goal percentage defense (34.5%), but the Sooners managed to shoot 41.2% for the night.
· Prairie View A&M stuck with the inside game, scoring 28 of its 47 points in the paint against the tough Oklahoma inside presence.
· Aminata Dieye stayed right on her average, with two blocked shots against Oklahoma. Dieye ranks 35th nationally with 2.1 blocks per game.
· The Panthers never led in the game and managed to tie the score twice in the first four minutes. Prairie View A&M went on a 3:45 scoring drought in the second half, from the 17:18-13:33, allowing Oklahoma to stretch its lead from 42-34 to 54-35.
· Sophomore Dominique Smith topped her points per game average of 10.6 in the first half, scoring 13 points on 5-9 shooting (1-3 3 pt. FG’s, 2-3 FT’s). She only played four minutes in the second half and scored three points.