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Feb. 25, 2003

Quickly: The Oklahoma women's basketball team (16-10, 7-6 Big 12) will try to extend its home winning streak to four games and end its regular season home schedule with a win on Wednesday as OU host Missouri at 7 p.m. in the Lloyd Noble Center. Oklahoma is 7-4 at home and 3-2 when playing teams from the Big 12 northern division this year.

The Sooners enter Wednesday's game after a long-over-due 61-48 win against Iowa State, while the Tigers are coming off a loss on Saturday. Missouri suffered a 69-48 setback at Colorado. MU actually led the Buffs, 30-27, at halftime, but struggled through a 7-for-32 shooting effort from the field in the second half.

If the Sooners want to continue to hold onto their fifth place standings in the Big 12 Conference, which they are tied with Missouri, OU will need to continue getting its offensive and defensive production its displayed last week. Oklahoma averaged 40 rebounds and held its opponents to just a .067 three-point field goal percentage (2-of-30). The Sooners only averaged 54.5 points last week but their shot selections were much improved over previous games. OU nailed 33.3 percent of its threes taken (11-of-33) and saw 70.6 percent of its field goals made come off of assists (24 assists to 34 FGM).

OU Tickets: Single game tickets for adult reserved seating is $10, while general admission seating is $8. Youth will be admitted for $5 and OU students are free with valid I.D. To order tickets or for more ticket information, fans should call (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-GoOU during regular business hours. Tickets may also be purchased online at soonersports.com.

Promotion: OU students will have a chance to win two plane tickets to Las Vegas courtesy of Above and Beyond Travel and $500 cold hard cash courtesy of the Big 12 Conference.

TV: None

Radio: Brian (play-by-play) and Tara DeGiusti (color analyst) will broadcast the game live on KOMA (1420 AM). All women's basketball games are also available live by Yahoo! on the Internet at www.soonersports.com.

Series Records: Missouri leads the all-time series 27-18, but Oklahoma has won the last three meetings between the two teams. When playing in Norman, OU sports a 10-9 advantage over the Tigers. In the last two games, OU was won by a 20-point margin. Sooner Head Coach Sherri Coale is 3-3 when playing Missouri.

Rankings: Oklahoma and Missouri are not ranked.

Coaches: Sherri Coale (Oklahoma Christian, 1987) is in her seventh season at the helm of the OU women's basketball program. The Healdton, Okla., native directed the Sooners to their first Final Four and national championship game appearance a year ago. Coale also has three Big 12 regular season titles under her belt and owns an overall record of 129-83. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

Cindy Stein (Illinois, 1984) is in her fifth season at Missouri. She has guided the Tigers to three consecutive postseason appearances for the first time since 1984-86. Stein also led MU to its first ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance since the inaugural tournament in 1982. Prior to Missouri, Stein spent three seasons at Emporia State where she produced an overall record of 65-25 (72.2 winning percentage). Her 1998 club finished second in the NCAA Division II championship.

Upcoming Opponents: Oklahoma will close out its 2002-03 regular season with a pair of Big 12 road games. OU travels to Stillwater on Saturday, March 1, to face Oklahoma State at 1 p.m., followed by ending the 2003 Big 12 schedule at Texas on Wednesday, March 5.

Probable Starters

Oklahoma                        PPGRPG
14  CBeky Preston (6-3, Fr)     3.43.6
12  GLauren Shoush (5-11, So.)    3.42.7
35  GDionnah Jackson (5-9, So     11.66.5
05  GMaria Villarroel (5-8, Jr)   14.74.9
00  GChelsi Welch (5-9, Fr)     12.13.8

Missouri PPGRPG 13 FEvan Unrau (6-1, Jr) 15.57.8 40 FStretch James (6-2, Jr) 9.45.3 54 CMelanie Fisher (6-2, Jr) 5.35.5 05 GTracy Lozier (5-10, Jr) 8.92.5 15 GKerensa Barr (5-10, Sr) 11.74.0

A LOOK AT OKLAHOMA
Although OU was the 2002 NCAA runner-up, the Sooners have a whole new look in 2003. Oklahoma entered the season with just one returning starter from last year's team that won the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles. They entered conference play with five new starters, after senior forward Caton Hill was lost for the season with a knee injury on Nov. 26.

As the season has developed the Sooners have found their new leader in sophomore Dionnah Jackson and been forced to rely on a handful of now experienced role players. Of OU's 10 active players, eight average at least 10 minutes per game and four are averaging better than 10 points and four rebounds per contest.

Jackson is one of only two players that have started all 26 games this seaosn. Her offensive production exploded against Iowa State Saturday when she nailed a career-high five of seven three pointers for a season-best 20 points. She also had seven assists and seven rebounds against the Cyclones. Jackson's defensive skills have also improved as she currently tops the team for most rebounds per game with 6.5. She also leads the team in assists, 4.9, and steals, 2.1, per game and ranks third in scoring with 11.6 ppg. Jackson boast a Big 12 best 2.4 assists/turnover ratio against league teams.

Freshman Chelsi Welch, a Big 12 Freshman of the Year candidate, has also started every game for the Sooners, averaging 12.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Over the last five games, Welch has contributed at least 16 ppg and she tops the club with 14.5 ppg in Big 12 play. The 5-9 guard has scored 10-plus points in 11 of 13 conference games and shot 88.9 percent from the free throw line.

Appearing in 24 of OU's 26 starting lineups has been junior Maria Villarroel. Villarroel, a transfer from Northeast Oklahoma A&M, has been the team leader in scoring the entire season and currently boasts 14.7 ppg. Because of her quickness and ability to finish at the rim, Villarroel leads the Big 12 Conference for best field goal percentage (.580). She also averages 4.9 rebounds per game and has a team-high 20 blocks. However, since being pulled from the starting lineup at Baylor (Jan. 26) she has only scored in double digits in four of nine games, prior to that she had netted 10-plus performances in 14 of 17 games.

OU's inside play comes from a pair of 6-3 centers in senior Theresa Schuknecht and freshman Beky Preston. Schuknecht, a transfer from Arizona State, has shown glimpses of great potential but hasn't been consistent for a lengthy period of time. Over the last five games, she's contributed 12.2 ppg and 5.2 rpg. She has connected on 45.1 percent from the field (23-of-51) and 78.9 percent from the foul line (15-of-19). Preston has started nine of 24 games with averages of 4.6 rebounds and 4.2 points per game. She also boasts a field goal percentage of 48.6 as a starter.

Appearing in the starting lineup at times this season has been freshman forward Laura Andrews and sophomore guard Lauren Shoush.

Andrews came up huge for the Sooners against Baylor in Waco with career highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds. For the season, she's averaging 4.3 points and 4.1 rebounds but in league play she has improved to 5.2 ppg and 5.0 rpg. Shoush, an Oklahoma City native, brings an immediate burst of energy and excitement to the floor for the Sooners. Even though her numbers only reflect 3.4 ppg and 2.7 rpg, for the year, her presence means a lot more than just numbers.

As a team, Oklahoma is averaging 66.5 points per game on offense, while allowing 61.5 points per game. One of the big factors in OU's decreased offensive production has been its lack of success from three-point range. The Sooners are shooting just 29.1 percent (110-of-378) from three-point range.

A LOOK AT MISSOURI (13-11, 7-6)
After winning three consecutive Big 12 games, Missouri is now on a two-game losing streak. The Tigers lost at Colorado, 69-48, and to Kansas State, 66-56, last week. MU enters Wednesday's game with an overall record of 13-11 and a 7-6 mark in Big 12 play.

In the Tigers loss to Colorado, junior guard Tracy Lozier had a team-high 16 points. She was the only Tiger in double digits. MU was outrebounded 44-30 and allowed the Buffs to shot 46.6 percent from the field. Missouri actually led CU, 30-27, at halftime, but struggled through a 7-for-32 shooting effort from the field in the second half.

Junior forward Evan Unrau is Missouri's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Unrau has produced seven double-doubles on the season and four have been against Big 12 teams. Senior guard Kerensa Barr ranks second on the club with 11.7 points and 4.0 boards per contest, while junior forward Stretch James ranks third on the team with 9.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Lozier has pitched in 8.9 points and 2.5 rebounds, while knocking down a team-high 43 three-pointers. Junior forward/center Melanie Fisher rounds out Missouri's probable starting lineup by averaging 5.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

The Tigers are shooting 41.5 percent from the field as a team, including a solid 34.3 percent from three-point range. MU is also a sound free throw shooting team, connecting on 73.6 percent of its attempts from the line. Barr, Lozier and reserves Cherice Mack and Terianne Wolford are all shooting better than 78 percent at the free throw line.

MISSOURI - OU TIDBITS
Missouri enters Wednesday's game with an identical 34.3 three-point field goal percentage that Iowa State had before playing the Sooners Saturday.

Missouri and Oklahoma ranks fifth (64.9 ppg) and sixth (63.2 ppg), respectively, against Big 12 teams in scoring. Also, OU ranks fifth in scoring defense (60.1 ppg) and MU ranks sixth (62.9 ppg).

Even though OU's offensive isn't that powerful, its defense has stepped up. The Sooners rank second in three-point field goal percentage defense and eighth in three-point field goal percentage. Missouri ranks fourth in three-point field goal percentage (34.7%) and fifth in three-point field goal defense (28.7%).

LAST TIME IN NORMAN
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP 2-23-02) - Stacey Dales proved how versatile she really was.

Dales, a 6-foot senior, scored a career-high 30 points and had five assists as No. 3 Oklahoma defeated Missouri 90-70.

Dales made 13 of 18 shots to lead Oklahoma, which clinched the regular season Big 12 title outright for the second consecutive year. The Sooners shared the title with Iowa State and Texas Tech in 2000.

Missouri took a 47-45 lead with 15:26 remaining on a 3-pointer by Terianne Wolford, but Oklahoma used an 21-7 run in the next six minutes to take control.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale felt it was just a matter of time before her team made the run.

"I felt like we were on the verge on a number of occasions of really taking off," Coale said. "Then something would happen. We would miss a shot or a foul would be called and we would break where we were headed."

Stein credited Oklahoma's defense in the second half for the Sooners success in forcing 14 Missouri turnovers in the final 20 minutes.

"They pressured the ball in the second half, and we freaked," Stein said.

Missouri outrebounded Oklahoma 39-28, but committed 25 turnovers to Oklahoma's 12. The Sooners also led 16-5 in steals.

Oklahoma took a 14-9 lead, but committed 13 fouls in the first half. Missouri used foul shots and inside play to stay close and take a 20-19 lead with 9:30 left in the first half.

Neither team had more than a four-point lead for the rest of the half and the game was tied at 37 at halftime.

Missouri's leading scorer was Kerensa Barr who made just 4 of 13 shots and scored nine points.

Rosalind Ross scored 18 points for Oklahoma, all on 3-pointers. Her six 3-pointers tied a career high.

Caton Hill added 15 points for Oklahoma, and LaNeishea Caufield scored 12.

Wannette Smith scored a career-high 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting to lead Missouri. Wolford also set a career high with 15 points.

SOONERS HONOR SENIORS
The women's basketball program will honor its three seniors following Wednesday's game. OU seniors are Theresa Schuknecht, Kate Scott and Stephanie Simon.

Schuknecht joined the program a year ago but was forced to miss the 2001-02 season due to NCAA tranfer rules. She has played in all 26 games and started 18 this season. The 6-3 center ranks among the NCAA elite for best free throw percentage, hitting 86.0% from the stripe. She also averages 11.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Her husband, Seth, is a Navy pilot at Tinker Air Force base.

Scott and Simon were both awarded full scholarships in January, 2002 after serving as walkons for two-an-a-half years.

Scott, a native of Overland Park, Kan., was voted a team tri-captain this season. She is a three-year letterwinner who has played in 56 career games, including 18 this season.

Simon, a native of Clinton, Okla., has battled injuries since her arrival in 2000. She has suffered three knee injuries in four years. Simon earned a starting position in six of 11 games after All-America candidate Caton Hill was sidelined in November. However, she ended her basketball career on January 7, with a knee injury. Simon played in 46 career games and saw her minutes increase from 4.7 per game a year ago to 14.8 this season.

COALE TO DROP PUCK AT BLAZERS GAME
The Oklahoma City Blazers will wear special crimson and cream jerseys with the University of Oklahoma interlocking logo on the crest for their home game on Thursday, Feb. 27 against the Austin Ice Bats.

OU women's basketball coach Sherri Coale is scheduled to drop the puck for the opening face off. Blazer fans will also have a chance to win a pair of tickets to NCAA Women's Basketball First & Second Rounds being hosted by OU on March 23 and 25 in Norman.

In conjunction with the hockey game, former OU running back Quentin Griffin is scheduled to sign autographs.

The Oklahoma sweaters worn by the players will be auctioned off during the game in a silent auction. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Oklahoma City and Norman Public School systems.

In addition to the Blazers' game-worn OU sweaters available for auction, Bob Stoops, Coale and Kelvin Sampson will each have a numbered, lettered and autographed jersey available for bids.

HILL TO SING NATIONAL ANTHEM
Caton Hill will be singing the National Anthem Wednesday night. The Ada, Okla., native also performed the anthem during the 2002 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships.

Hill would have been participating in this year's senior ceremonies but suffered a season ending knee injury on Nov. 26. Hill will be a fifth year senior next season.

SHARING THE ROCK
Head Coach Sherri Coale has always emphazied the importance of sharing the basketball and making the extra pass and that was evident against Iowa State as 88.9 percent of OU's 18 field goals made were assisted (16), marking the best assists to field goal made ratio under Coale.

Last year's team produced four games where five or fewer field goals were not assisted, including two games where only three field goals were unassisted (at Texas, 26 field goals to 23 assists; vs. Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament, 27 field goals to 24 assists).

Coale teams have had 18 games where five or fewer field goals were unassisted and seven games where four or fewer field goals were unassisted.

SOONERS DEFENSE VS. 3-POINTERS
Oklahoma enters Wednesday's game ranked second in the Big 12 Conference with a three-point field goal percentage defense of 26.8 percent, while Missouri ranks third in the league in three-pointers per game (5.21).

Iowa State entered Saturday's game leading the league in three-pointers per game (7.61), but Oklahoma held the Cyclones to a season-low one made trey. ISU also attempted a season-high 23 threes.

OU shoots an average of 4.23 three-pointers per game, ranking fifth in the league. Ranking ninth in three-point field goal percentage defense is Missouri's 32.0 percent.

Only Texas Tech has a better three-point field goal percentage defense mark, 26.6%, than Oklahoma.

WELCH - BIG 12 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE
Freshman Chelsi Welch has come up with stellar performances against Big 12 opponents. The Plainview, Texas, native returned home to west Texas to drop a career-high 23 points against Texas Tech last Wednesday. The guard has scored at least 10 points in 11 of 13 Big 12 games.

Welch has average 16.8 points and 3.2 rebounds over the last five games. She has also hit 41.5 percent from the field (27-of-65), 36.4 percent from the arc (12-of-33) and 85.7 percent from the stripe (18-of-21).

Welch has improved her point production to a team-best 14.5 points per game against conference opponents. The 5-9 guard ranks third in the league in free throw accuracy, fourth in three-point field goals made per game (1.8) and 10th in scoring.

Against other freshmen in the league, Welch ranks second in scoring (12.1 ppg) and free throw percentage (80.7%), seventh in steals (1.3 spg), eighth in rebounds (3.8 rpg), 10th in three-point field goal percentage (31.3%) and 10th in assists (1.5 apg).

SCHUKNECHT EARNS ACADEMIC HONOR
Theresa Schuknecht is one of five student-athletes that have been named to the Verizon Academic All-District VI University Division women's basketball first team for 2003. The 11 student-athletes (five first team, six second team) were picked by members of College Sports Information Directors of America from District VI.

Schuknecht was named to the President's Honor Roll and Dean's List for the 2001-02 academic year for maintaining a 3.92 grade point average in marketing. The 6-3 center is also a three-time Sooner Scholar and Commissioner's Honor Roll selection.

Other All-District first team picks were Shelby Hutchens of Oklahoma State, Kimberly Lawson of Rice, New Mexico State's Mari Sanchez and Tulane's Britt Themann.

This is Schuknecht's first Verizon Academic All-District honor. The five first team members now advance to the national ballot and has a chance to earn Verizon Academic All-America honors which will be released on March 7. District VI represents all NCAA Division I schools in the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

JACKSON BATTLES IN THE PAINT
Dionnah Jackson is the only guard in the Big 12 Conference that ranks among the league's top 20 in rebounds per game. Jackson averages 6.5 boards per contest for 14th best in the league.

In conference games only, she has increased that average to 7.2 rebounds per game for ninth best. Jackson's small 5-9 frame finds its way to the paint on the defensive end as she grabs a league best 6.15 defensive boards per game.

TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
Point guard Dionnah Jackson has picked up her production in Big 12 play. Her ability to take care of the basketball has her first on the Big 12 charts in assists/turnover ratio with a 2.4, compared to a 1.2 assists/turnover ratio in non-conference action.

Over the last five games, the sophomore has earned a sound 2.9 assists/turnover ratio in 35.4 minutes of play. And, in her last two games (vs. Texas Tech and Iowa State) she has produced 10 assists to just four turnovers for a 2.5 A/T ratio.

The St. Louis, Mo., native had a career-high 10 assists to zero turnovers in 38 minutes of play against Texas (Jan. 29) has been her best showing in a Sooner uniform at the point guard position. Ranking a close second is her performance of nine assists to one turnover in 36 minutes of court time against Baylor.

Prior to this season, Jackson's best was eight assists to one turnover in 23 minutes against Tulsa.

CONTINUING TO IMPROVE
One of the biggest improvements in Dionnah Jackson game since the beginning of the season has been her production at the free throw line. Over the past 10 games, she has nailed 81.3 percent (13-of-16) of her attempted shots at the charity stripe. In non-conference action, Jackson was only able to connect on 61.2 percent (41-of-67) of her free throws.