NCAA women’s tournament: OU’s Paris presents tough match-up for Eagles in second round

Such is life when you're a star.

It's no different for third-seeded Oklahoma and its center Courtney Paris.,”

AUSTIN, Texas — Some baseball historians believe Joe DiMaggio benefited from favorable scoring decisions during his 56-game hit streak. They say DiMaggio got credit for hits that would have been ruled fielding errors had another Yankee been at the plate.

Such is life when you're a star.

It's no different for third-seeded Oklahoma and its center Courtney Paris. She has recorded an NCAA record 59 straight double-doubles entering Monday's 6 p.m. game against sixth-seeded Marquette in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

That streak almost came to an end Saturday against 14th-seeded Southeast Missouri State. She didn't score her 11th point until 5:38 remained and she didn't secure her 10th rebound until 50 seconds were left on the clock. Scratch that. It was her 11th.

At the behest of Oklahoma's sports information director, the statisticians went back and credited Paris for a rebound with 6:09 to play in the game. Teammate Kendra Moore, who had emerged from a pile of players with the ball, was originally given credit for the rebound.

Even though she had an off game and finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds – she averages 23.2 points and 16 rebounds per game – Paris is still a huge concern for Marquette.

"If she had 13 points or 30 points she's worth all of our attention," Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell said. "I know she's going to want to perform better and we know she (can) because she's an All-American and they do that."

Paris, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, is a Kodak All-American Team nominee and a finalist for the Women's Wooden Award, the Naismith Award and the Wade Trophy.

For all of her awards, Paris had a hard time against Southwest Missouri State. The Redhawks limited her to three points and three rebounds in the first half of the NCAA tournament opener.

"In the first half, we were trying to front the posts and defend them that way and I think it was effective," Southeast Missouri State coach John Ishee said.

But things opened up in the second half after Paris received better feeds in the post and her teammates spaced the defense by hitting three-point shots.

"I think that's one of the special things about our team: having that inside-out option," Paris said. "Sometimes when we go to the post and we're able to do a lot of things in the post and our guards are open. Likewise, when they're making threes it opens up a lot of stuff in the post for me and leaves it a lot less crowded."

Oklahoma was 7-of-9 from behind the three-point arc in the first half and guard Jenna Plumley was 6-of-10 from long range for the game.

Marquette can look to Southeast Missouri State for ideas on how to play Paris, but the Golden Eagles have experience against post players like her.

During the course of the Big East season Marquette went up against a number of sizeable centers like Pittsburgh's 6-3 Marcedes Walker, Rutgers' 6-4 Kia Vaughn and Connecticut's 6-4 Tina Charles.

"I can't say Marcedes Walker of Pittsburgh has matched (Paris statistically)," Mitchell said. "But we've seen that big body and we understand what it is to defend that way. So we're excited for another opportunity to be able to do it."

Lam to play against former team

One of the players Mitchell will call on to defend Paris is 6-3 redshirt sophomore center Kelly Lam. It will be a bit of an odd sight when it happens because the two were supposed to be teammates.

After graduating from Brookfield (Wis.) East High School, Lam traveled south to Norman, Okla., to play basketball for Sherri Coale and the Sooners.

"Kelly is a great kid," Coale said, "and I thought a very versatile post player that was maybe a little bit of a sleeper coming in, we went up and found her. . She is really skilled and plays hard and competes."

Lam played sparingly during the 2004-'05 season, seeing the court in seven games for a total of 36 minutes. She finished the year with 11 points and nine rebounds. After the season Lam, whose father played at Marquette, decided to transfer to Milwaukee.

"She was trying to pave her own path (and) didn't want to follow dad," Mitchell said. "When it came down to it she really missed being around Marquette. It's just great to have her, her size (and) her physical play."

Lam has played her best basketball down the stretch. On March 5 she scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds against Rutgers in the Big East tournament, and Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Louisiana-Lafayette she recorded six points and six rebounds.