Paris had gotten a double-double in an NCAA-record 112 straight games before coming up just short against No. 12 Tennessee. Whitney Hand matched her career high with 20 points to help second-ranked Oklahoma beat the Lady Vols 80-70 on Monday night for the Sooners’ 15th straight victory.
Summitt will be stuck on 999 until at least Thursday night, when the Lady Vols host Georgia.
“I’m not concerned about a number for me,” Summitt said. “I’m concerned about this basketball team investing in our system and not picking and choosing when they want to play hard.”
Paris finished with nine points and 12 rebounds, marking the first time in more than 1,000 days she had failed to reach double figures in both categories. This was the first game in her college career that she didn’t score at least 10 points.
She got a standing ovation when she fouled out with 38.2 seconds left. She walked to the bench with both arms raised and wiped away tears as she waved to a standing crowd before taking a seat on the Sooners’ bench.
“I’m sorry if I cry because I’m a crybaby. I came here and I wanted to win a national championship,” Paris said, still wiping away tears. “In the midst of it, I’ve gotten this streak, I’ve had scoring records, I’ve did all these other things.
“And tonight, I wish I would have played better but I realized we have all the tools we need to do what I really wanted to do. It’s just overwhelming.”
It was the end of an unbelievable run that started in December of her freshman year and only the fourth time in Paris’ 121 career games that she didn’t reach at least 10 points and 10 rebounds. By comparison, the longest streak in men’s basketball was 40 in a row by North Carolina’s Billy Cunningham back in the 1960s.
“It had to end sometime, and if it ends tonight, it does. It’s still the most remarkable streak in the history of college basketball,” Sooners coach Sherri Coale said.
Paris’ teammates had plenty of fight to get the win anyway — and, just as notably, prevent Summitt from getting it. It was Oklahoma’s first win in four tries against the vaunted Lady Vols.
In the 35th year of her storied stay at Tennessee, Summitt was trying to become the first major college coach to reach 1,000 victories. And there were times early when it looked like she’d get there. But she was left glaring in silence at her team after calling time out following Hand’s steal and fast-break layup that closed an 11-2 Sooners run to put Oklahoma ahead 57-46 with 13:10 to play. When Summitt finally broke her silence, her instructions came in brief bursts.
By then, her Lady Vols had blown a 15-point lead and were threatening to get run out of the game entirely.
“We are a long way from being a 40- minute team,” Summitt said.
She could only stem the tide for so long.
A few minutes later, Hand nailed her fourth 3-pointer of the game during a run of nine straight points for the Sooners. Danielle Robinson’s fast-break layup pushed the lead to 72-54 and forced Summitt to burn her final timeout with 5:53 left. And it was too late to do enough damage after that.
Hand ended up matching her career-best with 20 points, Ashley Paris — Courtney’s twin sister — scored 19, and Danielle Robinson had 17 points and 12 assists. The Sooners shot 53 percent and forced 24 turnovers, 14 in the second half.
Shekinna Stricklen scored 19 to lead the Lady Vols (16-5). Glory Johnson added 12 and Vicki Baugh 11.
Baugh had to be helped off of the court in the closing minutes and Summitt said she didn’t expect to know her injury status until the team got back to Tennessee.
The crowd started chanting “Courtney! Courtney!” as Oklahoma (19-2) tried to pound the ball in to Paris to extend her streak. But she committed two turnovers under the basket and also missed a reverse layup during the final two minutes, and then had to leave the game early.
She still was able to celebrate, though, bouncing off the court after a postgame interview.
Stricklen scored 10 points during an early 16-0 surge by Tennessee, prompting Summitt to clap her hands and shout encouragement to Stricklen after her second 3-pointer during the stretch. But soon enough, Summitt’s trademark scowl was back and her arms were folded — right over left — just as they had been most of the game, and even when Tennessee’s lineup was being introduced before the game.
Coale gambled by putting Courtney Paris back in with two fouls, and it paid off perfectly. She set a screen to clear Nyeshia Stevenson for a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Oklahoma wiped out its 15-point deficit with a 19-0 run completed by Ashley Paris’ two free throws for a 37-33 Oklahoma lead.
Afterward, Ashley Paris cried, too, that her sister’s streak was over. She shed 30 pounds in the offseason and said she’s trying her best just to get four double-doubles in a row and “we share the same DNA.”
“I know how hard it is to do that, and I’m so proud. And I’m proud to have it on my last name,” Ashley Paris said. “It’s tough, it’s hard, and it’s just unbelievable what she has done.”