GU women have their chances but Sooners pull out win

Oklahoma’s Morgan Hook blocks a pass to Gonzaga’s Jazmine Redmon (34) during Thursday night’s preseason Women’s NIT semifinal. (Associated Press)

NORMAN, Okla. – Aaryn Ellenberg’s jumper with 1:56 left in the game lifted No. 11 Oklahoma into a lead the Sooners could finally hold onto and turn away No. 25 Gonzaga 82-78 in a semifinal-round battle in the preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament Thursday night.

Gonzaga nursed a slim lead throughout most of the game, which had 21 lead changes and 14 ties.

Oklahoma took a brief lead at 59-58 on a 3-pointer by Ellenberg with 12:29 remaining, but Lindsay Sherbert responded with a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs.

Ellenberg, who played the full 40 minutes for the Sooners (3-0), finished with 21 points. Kaylon Williams came off the bench to add 14 points, including five clutch free throws down the stretch to help the Sooners pull away.

Haiden Palmer had 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Gonzaga (2-1). Sherbert added 14 points off the bench.

Gonzaga led 76-72 with 5:13 to play. But the Bulldogs scored only two points the rest of the way, missing 8 of 9 shots and four free throws.

The Sooners tied the game at 78 on a three-point play with 3:04 left. Palmer then missed two free throws and a putback after she grabbed the offensive board following her free-throw misses.

Ellenberg responded by hitting a baseline jumper to put the Sooners on top for good.

GU’s Shelby Cheslek missed two free throws with 42 seconds left, and Palmer was short with a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining.

The Sooners face No. 5 Louisville Sunday in the tournament’s championship game.

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