COLUMBUS, Ohio — Central Michigan's star sophomore Crystal Bradford shined in her first career NCAA Tournament appearance, scoring a career-high 36 points and pulling down 14 rebounds, but the 11-seeded Chippewas were unable to overcome a cold shooting afternoon in falling to No. 6 seed Oklahoma, 78-73.
Bradford tallied the third-most points in a single game in CMU history setting a new program tournament record, and accounted for 14 of the Chippewas' 26 field goals on the afternoon.
Despite shooting just 31 percent (26-for-84) from the field, the Chippewas (21-12) were in the contest from start to finish and had the Sooners (23-10) on their heels in the second half.
After trailing by nine at the break, 43-34, CMU opened the second half on a 13-6 run to pull within a bucket at 49-47. Bradford scored on the Chippewas' first possession and after a layup by OU's Morgan Hook, CMU forced turnovers on five of the next six Sooner possessions to cut into the deficit.
Sharane Campbell finaly ended the drought with a fastbreak jumper for the Sooners to go up five, 49-44, but Bradford came right down the court and scored three the old fashioned way to cap the run.
Unfortunately, the momentum quickly swung back in the Sooners' favor as sharp shooter Aaryn Ellenberg knocked down three-straight treys to push the OU lead back to nine, 58-49.
The Chippewas didn't go away without a fight despite falling behind as many as 11 with 3:10 to play on another Ellenberg triple, as they fought back behind within five, 73-58 on a jumper in the lane by senior Brandie Baker.
CMU had a chance to cut it to a single possession game with 27 seconds to play, but junior Niki DiGuilio's three from the corner rimmed out and the Chippewas were forced to foul. OU knocked down 6-of-7 from the line down the stretch to seal the win.