Sooners Face Biggest Challenge Yet

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MARCH 23, 2000

March 23, 2000

No. 5 Seed Oklahoma (25-7) vs.
No. 1 Seed Connecticut (32-1)

Saturday, March 25 - 2 pm EST - ESPN
ALLTEL Pavilion at the Siegel Center (7,500), Richmond, Virginia

Sat., March 25 & Mon., March 27

ALLTEL Pavilion at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Vir. Short Reference: ALLTEL Pavilion

Game #1: (2) Duke vs. (3) LSU - 11:30 a.m. EST (ESPN2)
Game #2: (1) Connecticut vs. (5) Oklahoma - 30 minutes after semifinal of game #1, approximately 2 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Championship Game: Winners of Game #1 & Game #2 - (either 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. or 9 p.m.) (ESPN)

Virginia Commonwealth University

Oklahoma's semifinal game against Connecticut will be televised on ESPN at approxatimately 2 p.m. (EST). The East Region championship game will be carried on ESPN. A time has not yet been set.

Saturday's game will be carried live on the Sooner Basketball Radio Network on 1520 AM KOMA. Ed Murray will be calling the play-by-play and Jenny Bramer adding color commentary with a webcast on the internet at

Tickets are still available. Fans may purchase full session tickets for $30 (semifinal and finals). Remaining tickets may be purchased through the VCU ticket office at 804-828-7267.


The Sooners shocked everyone but themselves by winning their first and second round games of the NCAA Championship. Oklahoma is only one of 16 teams still playing for a national title.

The Sooners advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history by defeating BYU, 86-81, in the opening round and knocking off defending national champions Purdue, 76-74, on its home court, Mackey Arena, in West Lafayette, Ind.

The 1985-86 team was the first to appear among the 16-finalists.

This year marks the first time that OU was one of the 64 teams selected to compete in the NCAA Championship. The Sooners participated in two previous NCAA Tournaments but under different formats.

OU's last appearance was in 1995. Oklahoma's first showing in the "Big Dance" was in 1986. The Sooners qualified for the NCAA "Sweet 16" that season. OU lost to undefeated and top-ranked Texas, who won the national title that year.

Previous NCAA Tournament Appearances
1985-86at Norman, Okla.
First RoundBye
Second Round - W, 86-67 - Vanderbilt
SWEET 16 - at Austin, Texas
Regional Semifinal - L, 85-59 - Texas
note: Texas won the national championship that year.

1994-95at Ruston, La.
First Round - W, 90-55 - Loyola (Md.)
Second Round - L, 48-36 - Louisiana Tech

Oklahoma is one of four teams left in the NCAA East Region Championship. The East Region featured 10 conference champions, an RPI of 12th, six teams ranked among the top 25 in the nation and two additional teams were earning votes. See NCAA Bracket inside back cover.

Oklahoma is on a two-game winning streak, sports an overall record 25-7 and boasts the school's all-time winning percentage of 78.1%.

The Sooners are coming off subregional victories over No. 13 seed BYU, 86-81, and No. 4 seed Purdue, 76-74, in West Lafayette, Ind.

As a team, OU ranks among the nation's best scoring units, averaging 79.0 points per game. In their two NCAA games, the Sooners are averaging 81.0 points a game. OU is also one of the best teams in the Big 12 and nationally in rebounding margin. Oklahoma is second in the league with a +6.3 and 17th nationally.

The Sooners depend on senior All-American Phylesha Whaley and sophomore guards LaNeishea Caufield and Stacey Dales. The trio averages 10-plus points per game. Whaley boasts a team-best 20.7 points an outing, followed by Caufield's 15.1 and Dales' 12.8 points a game. Whaley also leads the team defensively with 8.1 rebounds. Freshman Caton Hill contributes 7.4 boards a game.

At point, Dales is the team leader in assists with 5.8 a game. Junior shooting guard Sunny Hardeman ranks second with 3.8 assists per game. Caufield leads the team in thefts, pocketing a team-high 3.0 steals a game.

(25-7, 13-3 Big 12)

Pos.No.NameHt.Yr.Hometown (High School/Community College)Ppg.Rpg.Ast.Stl.Min.
F34Phylesha Whaley5-10Sr.Slaton, Texas (Slaton HS)
F10Caton Hill6-0Fr.Ada, Okla. (Ada HS)
G13Sunny Hardeman5-7Jr.Norman, Okla. (Norman HS)
G20LaNeishea Caufield5-9So.Ada, Okla. (Ada HS)
G21Stacey Dales6-0So.Brockville, Ontario, Canada (Thousand Islands Secondary School)

Sooner Reserves

Pos.No.NameHt.Yr.Hometown (High School/Community College)Ppg.Rpg.Ast.Stl.Min.
C00Desiree Taylor6-1So.Richardson, Texas (L.V. Berkner HS)
C15Jennifer Cunningham6-3Fr.Kingston, Ontario, Canada (Frontenac Secondary School)
G23Jadrea Seeley6-2Fr.Bethel, Okla. (Bethel HS)
Head Coach: Sherri Coale (Oklahoma Christian, 1987), 4th season, currently 53-62 at OU

Sophomore point guard Stacey Dales was selected as the Player of the Day as the Sooners dethroned defending national champions Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 20.

Dales held Boilmaker All-American Katie Douglas to just four points on 1-of-11 shooting from the field for an accuracy of .091. Douglas entered the tournament averaging 21.3 points a game.

"Oklahoma guard Stacey Dales was the one who set the tone against Purdue. When Phylesha Whaley, who was held to 11 points, was struggling to get the ball inside, Dales took over offensively and defensively," said Jay Bilas of ESPN. "Dales, a sophomore who finished with 16 points, sat on the left hand of Katie Douglas and prevented Purdue's junior from going to her strong side. It was Dales who really set the tone for this win."

The top-ranked Connecticut Huskies enter the NCAA Sweet 16 on a 13-game winning streak. The only loss on the Big East champion's schedule was a one-point setback to Tennessee, 72-71, in Storrs, Conn., on Feb. 2.

Connecticut has cruised to two easy victories in the opening rounds of NCAA action. Top seed UConn embarrassed No. 16 seed Hampton, 116-45, before eliminating No. 9 seed Clemson, 83-45. Both games were played on the Huskies' home court.

UConn has four players averaging double digits in scoring with junior Shea Ralph leading the way with 14.5 points per game. Junior Svetlana Abrosimova (13.0) and sophomores Sue Bird (10.7) and Swintayla Cash (10.1) also score 10+ points. Abrosimova is the team leader in rebounding with 6.2 game, followed by Cash's 5.7.

Connecticut is shooting 53.9 percent from the field, 71.0 from the foul line and 42.4 from the three-point range.

Geno Auriemma is in his 15th season as the Huskies' head coach.

(32-1, 16-0 Big East)

Pos.No.NameHt.Yr.Hometown (High School/Community College)Ppg.Rpg.Ast.Stl.Min.
F33Shea Ralph6-0Jr.Fayetteville, N.C. (Terry Sanford)
F25Svetlana Abrosimova6-2Jr.St. Petersburg, Russia (Petrogradskoi N86)
C41Paige Sauer6-5Sr.Midwest City, Okla. (Carl Albert)
G10Sue Bird5-9So.Syosset, N.Y. (Christ the King)
G32Swintayla Cash6-2So.McKeesport, Pa. (McKeesport)

Huskie Reserves

Pos.No.NameHt.Yr.Hometown (High School/Community College)Ppg.Rpg.Ast.Stl.Min.
F/C11Kelly Schumacher6-5Jr.Quyon, Canada (John Abbott)
F15Asjha Jones6-2So.Piscataway, N.J. (Poscataway)
F20Stacy Hansmeyer6-1Sr.Norman, Okla. (Norman)
F34Tamika Williams6-2So.Dayton, Ohio (Chaminade-Julienne)
Head Coach: Geno Auriemma, 15th season

The Sooners and Huskies met for the first time earlier this season. UConn handed Oklahoma its first home loss of the season with an 84-68 victory at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., on Dec. 29.

Fifth seed Oklahoma advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 with wins over Brigham Young, 86-81, and host Purdue, 76-74, in West Lafayette, Ind.

Against BYU, senior All-American forward Phylesha Whaley became the school's all-time scorer with a season- and game-high 33 points. Whaley's 33-point performance tops the NCAA list of active players for best individual performance. Purdue's Camille Cooper's 34-points against OU is the only one to top Whaley's outing. Sophomore LaNeishea Caufield followed with 26 points, en route to establishing career highs of 12 field goals made and 16 field goals attempted. Caufield also had seven rebounds and three steals on the evening. Sophomore Stacey Dales dished out a career-high 12 assists to go along with her nine points and two rebounds. Junior shooting guard Sunny Hardeman also had a career-high seven assists and tied her career high with five rebounds.

Caufield scored 16 of her 26 points in the second half of the Purdue battle. She was 9-of-13 from the field (69.2%) and flawless from the foul line (5-of-5). Caufield gave OU its first lead of the game with 63 second left to play. She canned a pair of free bees to put OU up 73-72. The Boilmakers were given to opportunities to regain the lead but PU stepped out of bounds on a rebound and missed critical free throws with 9.9 seconds remaining. The Sooners trailed by as many as 17 points, the most all season, in the first half and faced a 59-46 deficit with 11:05 to go. OU took the lead, the Sooners never looked back. Outside of Caufield's solid play, Dales was the defensive stopper for Purdue's All-American Katie Douglas. Dales limited Douglas to one made field goal out of 11 tries. She also was credited with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. In addition, she was named the Player of the Day for her offensive and defensive performance.

Oklahoma won its second game of the year when being outrebounded by its opponent. Purdue grabbed 36 rebounds to OU's 32.

Purdue shot a higher field goal percent (48.2-to-46.7), including hitting 57.1 percent of its shots in the first half, and had nine steals to OU's five.

If the Sooners advance to Monday night's championship game of the NCAA East Regional, Oklahoma would face the winner of the Duke and LSU game.

Oklahoma would be playing both opponents for the first time in school history.

The Sooners have not been down by 17 points, as they were against Purdue, and come back to win the game this season.

OU's previous largest deficit was when Denver jumped out to a 10-0 lead to open play before the Sooners were able to regroup and capture a 69-62 win in Denver.

When the two teams met on Dec. 29, it was a homecoming for Connecticut seniors Stacey Hansmeyer of Norman and Paige Sauer of Midwest City. Both Hansmeyer and Sauer played on state high school championship teams their senior year. Hansmeyer was a member of Oklahoma's Head Coach Sherri Coale's 1995-96 championship squad.

Oklahoma has a trio of dangerous players in All-American Phylesha Whaley and All-Big 12 selections Stacey Dales and LaNeishea Caufield. Each player averages double figures in scoring and plays more than 30 minutes a game. Whaley leads the trio with 20.7 points and 34.5 minutes per game. She also hauls down a team-high 8.1 rebounds a outing. Caufield and Dales follow with 15.1 and 12.8 points, respectively. In addition, Caufield paces the team in thefts with 3.0, while Dales dishes out a team-best 5.8 assists a game.

Junior guard Sunny Hardeman and freshman forward Caton Hill round out Oklahoma's starting lineup. Hardeman is the team's three-point specialist as she has nailed a team-high 39 treys this year. Hill is solid across the board as she contributes 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Through the season, Head Coach Sherri Coale's bunch has exhibited an impressive balance offensively, making it difficult for opponents to focus on one person.

Three Sooners, led by senior forward Phylesha Whaley (20.6), are averaging double figures in scoring. Others in double figures include sophomore guards LaNeishea Caufield (15.1 ppg) and Stacey Dales (12.8).

Oklahoma sports a healthy team heading into the semifinal and final game of the East Region of the NCAA Championship.

The Sooners ended the regular season as tri-Big 12 Conference Champions, with Iowa State and Texas Tech, with a league record of 13-3. OU was picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches and media polls. The Sooners also boast their first-ever conference Player and Coach of the Year in senior All-American Phylesha Whaley and fourth-year Head Coach Sherri Coale.

Oklahoma clinched its first Big 12 Conference regular-season title with an 77-68 victory over arch rival Oklahoma State in its last home and regular season game on March 1. Ironically, OU captured its first-ever conference title in 1986 when the Sooners defeated OSU in Stillwater to clinch the Big Eight crown.

Not since the 1985-86 team has an Oklahoma women's basketball program appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16. That year OU finished the season with an overall record of 24-7 and won the Big Eight Conference regular season title.

With 25 wins this year, the Oklahoma women's basketball team becomes the only program in school history to collect a 25 victories. OU matched the previous best mark of 24 wins against BYU. The 1985-86 team also won 24 games.

The Sooners' starting five are solid contributors to OU's success as the lineup ranks among OU's all-time top five in assists, steals and minutes played. In addition, four of the five starters rank among the team's top five in scoring and rebounding.

Not since the 1994-95 team has an Oklahoma women's basketball squad collected 20 victories in a single season. This year OU reached that milestone 24 games into the season, tying the school's fastest route to the 20-win plateau. OU defeated Oklahoma State on Feb. 12 in Stillwater for its 20th win.

The 1985-86 team also collected its 20th win 24 games into the season. That same year, the Sooners won the Big Eight regular-season title and advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Only six teams in school history have ever matched or bettered the 20-win mark.

In her first two NCAA championship games, sophomore guard LaNeishea Caufield is averaging 24.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. She's shooting an amazing 72.4 percent from the field (21-of-29) and has connected on 87.5 percent of her free throws (7-of-8).

In her two Big 12 Conference Tournament games, she only contributed 5.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and shot a poor .118 from the field (2-of-17).

As shown in Oklahoma's first two NCAA victories, the Sooners are more than senior All-American Phylesha Whaley.

Sophomore guard LaNeishea Caufield stepped up and provided scoring, defense and leadership for OU. Caufield, a native of Ada, Okla., averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and shot 72.4 percent from the field (21-of-29) and 87.5 percent from the foul line (7-of-8).

Sophomore point guard Stacey Dales dished out a career-high 12 assists in OU's opening game against BYU and averaged eight assists in the two games. Dales also contributed 12.5 points and four rebounds. The Brockville, Ontario, Canada, native also held All-American Katie Douglas to just four points on 1-of-11 shooting from the field.

Caufield leads the team in NCAA scoring but Whaley is close behind with 22.0 points per game. She also averages 5.5 boards a game. Whaley's 33 points against BYU in the first round rank as the second most points scored by an individual in NCAA action this year. Purdue's Camille Cooper had 34 points vs. Oklahoma in the second game.

Whaley is the heart of the team but not always the focus.

Oklahoma won a school-record 13 conference games this season. The Sooners had just won 13 conference games the past three years prior to the 1999-2000 season.

Out of a town of 4,000 people in Bristow, Okla., three former Bristow High School graduates are competing in the NCAA Tournament. Headlining the trio is Oklahoma's Angye Tilley, followed by LSU's Jamie Hawkins and Rice's Kara Liggett. Liggett's Owls were eliminated in the second round but Tilley and Hawkins will be playing in the semifinals of the East Region this weekend.

All-American Phylesha Whaley continues to be honored as the 5-10 senior forward has led the Sooners in scoring for the past four years and rebounding the last three seasons. She is averaging 20.7 points and 8.1 rebounds and shoots an impressive 46.7 percent from the three-point line.

The Slaton, Texas, native was most recently named to the United States Basketball Writers Association All-America team and Associated Press honorable mention squad, Women's Basketball Journal second team All-America and was Big 12 Conference Player of the Year.

Whaley is also a finalist for the Kodak All-America team by being named to the five member District V squad. In addition, she's earned All-Big 12 and Women's Basketball News Service All-America first-team accolades.

"It's a great honor for me to receive this award," stated Whaley upon hearing of her Big 12 honor. "I'm shocked to tell you the truth because there's so many great players in this league: Stacy Frese, Edwina Brown, Lynn Pride. I could go on and on. It's overwhelming when the coaches choose you over all of those great players."

  • Whaley became Oklahoma's all-time leading scorer with 33 points against Brigham Young in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
  • Whaley became Oklahoma's first women's basketball player to ever be named conference player of the year.
  • Whaley scored 31 points to earn her 2000th career point against Texas on Wednesday, Feb. 16.
  • Whaley has the school record in nine categories: points, field goals attempted, free throws attempted, free throws made, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, games started, consecutive games started and minutes played.
  • Whaley has produced 10 double-doubles this year and has 25 career double-doubles.
  • Whaley has scored 10-or-more points in all 32 games this year, including 17 20-plus performances.
  • Whaley has been named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Week twice this season, marking the ninth time the power forward has earned this honor in her four-year career.
  • Whaley became the 14th Sooner to pass the 1,000-point mark a year ago.
  • Whaley is a four-time all-conference selection and Sooner MVP.

It's time to make room for a new star in NCAA Division I coaching. With the arrival of Oklahoma's Head Coach Sherri Coale four years ago, the Sooner women's basketball program has been escalated to national prominence. With Coale in the director's chair and senior All-American Phylesha Whaley leading the youthful Sooners, OU is bound for its second NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance.

In her fourth year, Coale has the Sooners in the NCAA Tournament, guided OU to a share of the Big 12 Conference regular-season title and produced a 20-win season. For this, the Healdton, Okla., native has earned numerous Coach of the Year accolades.

Coale opened her collegiate coaching career with a 5-22 record, followed by an 8-19 campaign in 1998. Last year, Coale took OU to the WNIT and finished the year with an overall record of 15-14. After struggling to just 28 wins in her first three years, Coale's Sooners are 25-7 this season, and sit at No 18 on the Associated Press and No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' polls. The Sooners, who had won just 13 conference games over the past three years prior to the 1999-2000 season, had 13 Big 12 victories this season.

Freshmen Jadrea Seeley and Caton Hill played vital roles in Oklahoma's victories in the NCAA first and second rounds.

Seeley delivered solid passes that led to baskets by teammates and she nailed a three-pointer and a jumper in the Sooners' 17-point comeback victory against Purdue. The duo ranks fourth and fifth on the team in scoring in NCAA games. Hill averages 8.0 points, while Seeley chips in 6.5 per game. Hill has hit 36.4 percent (4-11) of her shots from the field, while Seeley has nailed 55.6 percent (5-9) of her attempts. In addition, Hill has been a warrior on the boards, hauling down 9.0 per game.

Against Brigham Young, Oklahoma established a single season record for most assists with 607 on the year. The Sooners dished out 23 against the Cougars.

Sophomores Stacey Dales and LaNeishea Caufield plus junior Sunny Hardeman have been Oklahoma'a backcourt for most of the season. For the Sooners to be successful against top-ranked Connecticut each will have to perform at the highest level.

Dales and Hardeman are both coming off career-high nights in assists with 12 and seven, respectively, against Brigham Young. Caufield has exploded in the last two game as she recorded 22 of her 26 points in the final 20 minutes against BYU and 16 of her 26 after intermission vs. Purdue.

Oklahoma has not lost a game when leading at halftime. The Sooners boast an 20-0 mark when ahead at intermission.

After shooting 75.6 percent from the free throw line the last five games (90-119), Oklahoma broke the school single-season record for best free throw percentage. Through 32 games, the Sooners have nailed 74.6 percent of their shots from the charity stripe.

That breaks the single season team record of 72.1 percent established by last year's team.

When Oklahoma combines solid shooting and rebounding the Sooners are almost unstoppable. OU is 21-3 when producing a better field goal percentage than its opponent and 22-2 when outrebounding its challenger.

In addition, OU is 15-0 when hitting 50 percent or better from the field. Oklahoma also has the edge when shooting (20-0) and making (19-0) more free throws.

Oklahoma is 1-3 this season when playing on a neutral court. OU snapped its winless mark with its 86-81 win over BYU last Saturday. The Sooners lost two games at the Hawaiian Regent Classic (Arizona and Tennessee Tech) and its first game of the Big 12 Tournament (Texas).

Sophomore LaNeishea Caufield is automatic when placed on the free throw line in the final minutes of the game. The 5-9 guard has connected on 94.1 percent of her foul shots in the last two minutes of a game, hitting 32-of-34 attempted foul shots. On the season, she has connected on 162-of-191 foul shots for an OU single season best free throw accuracy of 84.8.

She owns the school career free throw percentage record with a 82.5 accuracy, hitting 345-of-418.

Oklahoma's eight consecutive road wins, from Nov. 20 to Jan. 29, marked a school record. The previous best was five straight road wins set during the 1984-85 season.

Oklahoma became the first team in the Big 12 Conference to open league play with nine straight wins.

Sophomore LaNeishea Caufield moved up to No. 3 on OU's single season list with 95 steals. She is 15 shy of claiming the single season record in that category.

The Ada, Okla., native took over the No. 1 slot earlier this year for best single season free throw percentage, hitting 84.8 percent of her shots. In addition, she ranks third in most free throws made (162) and ranks fourth in free throws attempted (191).

As a freshman, she set the school single season record for most made (183) and attempted (227) free throws.

Oklahoma's home average attendance of 2,659 fans ranks 36th in the nation according to an unofficial home attendance chart complied weekly by the Wisconsin-Madison Women's Sports Information Office.

This year a total of 39,880 fans witnessed a women's basketball game at the Lloyd Noble Center compared to last year's total of 20,257 fans. The Sooners ended the 1999-2000 campaign with a home record 13-2.

Head Coach Sherri Coale and her 1999-2000 team have established four of OU's top 10 attendance marks and seven of the top 25 figures this year.

Oklahoma enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the most prolific scoring threats in the country, according to the most recent NCAA statistics released on March 13.

OU ranks 12th in the NCAA with an average of 78.9 points per game.

The Sooners also rank eighth in field goal accuracy, hitting 48.0 percent of their shots (863-of-1799), 17th in rebounding margin (+6.7) and 20th in free throw percentage, shooting 74.6 percent (488-of-654).

Oklahoma is undefeated when scoring 90-plus points against its opponents. However, the Sooners are 0-2 when being held to 59 points or less. When registering 80 or more points, OU is 15-2.

When Scoring:

50-59 points:     0-2

60-69 points:     4-3

70-79 points:     5-1

80-89 points:     9-2

90-99 points:     5-0

100-plus points:  1-0

The University of Oklahoma women's basketball program is the 17th most improved program this year in the NCAA as announced by the national office on Tuesday, March 14.

In the Sooners' 32 games this season six different players have led the team in scoring. OU's leading scorer in 20 games has been senior Phylesha Whaley. Sophomores LaNeishea Caufield and Stacey Dales have paced the team eight and five times, respectively.

Oklahoma ended its 1999-2000 home campaign at the Lloyd Noble Center with 13 victories which ties the school record set by the 1983-84 and 1984-85 teams.

In addition, OU bettered the previous school record for most home games in a single season by one with 16.

The last time Oklahoma ended the regular season by winning three consecutive games was during the 1978-79 campaign ... Oklahoma's 9-0 run to open the Big 12 Conference schedule is a league best. ... In the latest Collegiate Basketball News Women's RPI Rankings, Oklahoma is ranked 18th in the country. (March 13) ... The Sooners are 3-4 against ranked opponents. ... Oklahoma is 6-4 in televised games. ... Oklahoma was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 Conference Coaches and Media polls. ... The last time that Oklahoma's men's and women's basketball programs were ranked at the same time was during the 1994-95 season. ... Oklahoma assistant coach Kristi Hayes resigned Feb. 1. Hayes cited her mother's illness as the reason for leaving the nationally-ranked Sooners. ... OU matched its second longest winning streak in school history at 10 games. The 1984-85 squad also accomplished this mark. The 1983-84 team holds the school record with 11 consecutive victories. ... Oklahoma set a record for the largest crowd to ever witness a women's sporting event in the state of Oklahoma when 10,713 fans watched the Connecticut game on Dec. 29. ... OU's 45-point margin of victory over San Diego on Dec. 21 was the ninth largest in school history. ... Oklahoma became the first squad in OU women's basketball history to go undefeated in the month of January (8-0).



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