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Rush scores season-high 23 in win

3/21/2004

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Freshman Leah Rush had a season-high 23
points, leading Oklahoma to a 58-45 victory over Marist in the
first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night.

Maria Villarroel had 12 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, and
Dionnah Jackson scored 14 points for the Sooners (24-8), who lost
their season finale to Texas but also beat the Longhorns to win the
Big 12 Conference tournament title.

That earned Oklahoma the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Regional,
where it will face sixth-seeded Stanford -- a 68-44 winner over
Missouri -- in the second round Monday.

Stephanie Del Preore had 12 points and Kerry Sullivan 10 for the
Red Foxes (20-11), who belied their No. 14 seed by rallying from a
47-27 deficit in the last eight minutes.

Marist got to 47-42 on a three-point play by Maureen Magarity
with 4:06 remaining. Then Rush, who matched her personal best for
free throws made with a 9-for-9 performance, stopped the momentum
by popping an 8-footer on the baseline and a 12-footer in the paint
in a 28-second span.

With 2:31 left, the Sooners led 52-44.

Rush and Jackson had four points each during Oklahoma's 14-0 run
to start the second half, a surge that opened a 42-23 lead.

Marist missed its first seven shots, falling behind 10-0 before
Kristen Keller, inserted after a timeout, made a layup with 15:18
remaining.

The Red Foxes continued to struggle until reserves got them
going late in the half. Megan Vetter had a 16-footer and 3-pointer
34 seconds apart, and Sullivan cut the deficit to 20-16 with two
free throws with 5:11 to go.

Kristen Vilardi had a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, bringing
Marist to 26-23, and becoming only the second starter with a
basket.