Oklahoma Basketball Opens Season Against Oklahoma Christian In Exhibition Action

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 03, 2002

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

Nov. 3, 2002

Norman, Okla. -

Date: Tuesday, November 5, 2002
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla. - 11,100
Television: None
Radio: None
Records: Oklahoma is 0-0 overall. Oklahoma Christian is 0-0 overall.
Series: 2-0 Oklahoma
Up Next: State Farm Tip-Off Classic vs. Tennessee, Sunday, Nov. 10, 3 p.m. EST, Thompson Boling Arena

Quickly: Oklahoma tips-off its 28th year of women's basketball Tuesday, Nov. 5, in an exhibition game against Oklahoma Christian. The two teams will face each other inside the Lloyd Noble Center at 7 p.m. The game will not be broadcast via the radio or Internet.

Series: Oklahoma and Oklahoma Christian faced each other for the first time in an exhibition setting in 2001. The Sooners own a 2-0 series edge over the Lady Eagles and sport a victory margin of +30.5 points.

Exhibition Success: Oklahoma is now 10-4 in exhibition play over the past six years. OU defeated Oklahoma Christian, 90-62, and Southwestern Oklahoma State, 82-46, last year. For the 1990s, OU went 9-7 in preseason action and boasts a 6-0 mark since 2000.

Coaches: Sherri Coale (Oklahoma Christian, 1987) enters 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 has led OU to three straight Big 12 regular season titles. She has compiled an overall record of 113-73 and a 55-41 mark in league play. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

Stephanie Findley (Oklahoma Christian, 1982) was named the head coach of Oklahoma Christian women's basketball program in 1985, after serving as an assistant for three years. She has coached seven OC teams to the NAIA Division I Women's Tournament, including the last three. Findley boasts an overall record of 332-200 for a .627 winning percentage.

F - #10 Caton Hill (6-1, Sr., Ada, Okla.) ... 12.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg
C - #22 Theresa Schuknecht (6-3, Sr.-TF, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada) ... ^24.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg
G - #35 Dionnah Jackson (5-9, So., St. Louis, Mo.) ... 7.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg
G - #0 Chelsi Welch (5-9, Fr., Plainview, Texas) ... ^19.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg
G - #5 Maria Villarroel (5-8, Jr.-TF, Margarita, Venezuela) ... ^24.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg

G - #4 Stephanie Luce (5-6, Jr., Southlake, Texas) ... 0.8 ppg, 0.4 rpg
G - #11 Stephanie Simon (6-0, Sr., Clinton, Okla.)... 1.2 rpg, 1.2 rpg
G - #12 Lauren Shoush (5-11, So., Oklahoma City, Okla.) ... 1.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg
C - #14 Beky Preston (6-3, Fr., Albuquerque, N.M.) ... ^18.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg
F - #31 Antoinette Wadsworth (5-11, Fr.-RS, Grand Prairie, Texas) ... ^16.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg
G/F - #33 Laura Andrews (6-0, Fr., Washington, Okla.) ... ^24.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg
G - #34 Erin Higgins (5-9, Fr., Oklahoma City, Okla.) ... ^14.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
G - #51 Kate Scott (5-10, Sr., Kansas City, Kan.) ... 1.5 ppg, 0.5 rpg

^ stats prior to Oklahoma.

Tuesday's sidelines will feature some very familiar faces between the two programs. Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale will face former coach and good friend in Oklahoma Christian's Head Coach Stephanie Findley. Findley coached Coale for two years and Sooner assistant coach Jan Ross for one year at Oklahoma Christian. Ross also served as an assistant coach under Findley for five years at OC (1986-91).

Coale graduated summa cum laude and was an Academic All-American in 1987, while Ross earned academic and athletic All-America honors her senior season (1986).

Oklahoma returns six letterwinners and one starter from the 2001-02 NCAA Final Four team, including NCAA All-West Regional and All-Big 12 third teamer Caton Hill.

With its six letterwinners and one starter returning, Oklahoma returns 29.6 percent of its scoring, 35.6 percent of its rebounds and 36.5 percent of its assists from last year's NCAA runner-up team.

Oklahoma Christian opened its 2002-03 schedule on Nov. 1 against York College. The Lady Eagles picked up an 87-62 victory to start the season 1-0. Kimya Murrey (15), Elizabeth Mullins (12) and Caley Gregg (11) each posted double digits in scoring for OC. Mullins led her team with 10 rebounds as the Lady Eagles out rebounded York College, 52-33.

Like OU, Oklahoma Christian has to find away to replace a couple of all-conference and All-Americans. OC lost All-American center Sarah Reese, all-conference guard Ali Griffin and all-conference forward Lindsay Wilson from a team that finished 20-14 and was ranked 19th in the final regular season poll last year. Reese was also a three-time All-Sooner Conference first team selection. Griffin was a two-time All-SAC third team pick while Wilson became the NAIA all-time record holder for blocked shots with 471.

Following Tuesday's game, the Lady Eagles will face Missouri Valley College at home on Friday, Nov. 8.

Oklahoma senior Caton Hill is one of 30 NCAA Division I women's basketball players to be named to the 2002-03 Preseason Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards watch list. Hill, a 6-1 forward, enters her senior season as OU's top returning scorer (12.6) and rebounder (6.9) from last year's team.

Hill becomes just the third Oklahoma women's basketball player to be nominated. Former Sooners Stacey Dales-Schuman and LaNeishea Caufield were finalists for this honor a year ago.

This year's 2002-2003 team captains will be seniors Caton Hill (Ada, Okla.) and Kate Scott (Kansas City, Mo.) plus sophomore Dionnah Jackson (St. Louis, Mo.). Hill was one of three team captains a year ago. Scott and Jackson will serve their first season as a team tri-captain.

Senior Caton Hill was named to the 2003 All-Big 12 Preseason first team, while teammate Maria Villarroel was selected as the Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by the conference coaches. As a team, OU was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll.

Headlining Oklahoma's frontcourt this year is senior Caton Hill, a mobile forward who's coming off a banner season in which she averaged 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. She ended her junior season ranked 19th in the conference in scoring, ninth in rebounding, eighth in free throw percentage (.812), seventh in three-point field goal percentage (.398), and eighth in defensive rebounds (4.94). She also ranked fifth for most double doubles with six.

Hill will be a key in the Sooners' fortunes on both ends of the court as she ranks among the school's all-time greats in 17-of-22 career categories. She's within reach of becoming the program's top offensive, defensive and overall rebounder.

The Ada, Okla., native currently ranks third on OU's all-time rebounding chart with 801 and 13th in career points with 1,194. Over a three-year span, Hill has guided OU to an overall record of 85-17 (83.3 winning percentage) and three Big 12 regular season championships.

Oklahoma must contend with the loss of two-time Kodak All-American Stacey Dales, two-time defensive player of the year LaNeishea Caufield and three-point specialist Rosalind Ross. The Sooners have just one returning backcourt player who saw action in more than 30 games and played more than 10 minutes per game. Dionnah Jackson has taken over the point guard spot, vacated by Dales. The St. Louis, Mo., native averaged 7.3 points per game. She really grew into her role as the year progressed and turned into the team's second-best distributor with 2.9 assists per game.

She opened many eyes with her stellar play during the 2002 Big 12 Tournament, registering a career-high 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting against Oklahoma State. She was named to the All-Big 12 Tournament team after averaging 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds and shooting an impressive 66.7 percent from the field (16-of-24) over the three-game span. Jackson was tabbed as one of the top freshmen in the conference and nation last season.

Not many people outside of the OU women's basketball program knows about the talented group of freshmen and transfers Head Coach Sherri Coale has at her finger tips this season. Among the talented group of newcomers are:

*Senior Theresa Schuknecht was named the 2001 NAIA Kodak Player of the Year and an All-American at Southern Nazarene and was the 2000 PAC 10 Freshman of the Year and all-conference selection. Schuknecht is a 6-3 healthy center for the Sooners who has the ability to block shots, be effective at the post, step out for the jumper or shoot the three.

*Maria Villarroel is a junior college transfer who brings a tremendous amount of speed and quickness to the hardwood. Villarroel was tabbed as a two-time JUCO All-American and conference player of the year. She spent last season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M where she lead the NAIA in scoring, averaging 24.4 points per game, and field goal percentage, hitting 73.4 percent of her shots. She averaged 22.1 ppg, 9.3 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game as a freshman at Independence College (Kan.).

*Antoinette Wadsworth blew her left ACL during OU's first exhibition game, against Oklahoma Christian, a year ago. Wadsworth had eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, grabbed four rebounds and added one block and one steal to her totals in just 12 minutes of action.

*One of Coach Coale's most talented recruits is freshman Chelsi Welch. Welch is Coale's first WBCA High School All-American. The 5-9 guard from Plainview, Texas, brings an exceptional work ethic and a lot of determination to the program. She had an impressive summer where she participated in nearly every all-star game possible. Welch was selected the MVP in two of the three all-star games she played after being voted Texas' 4A Player of the Year.

*Freshmen Erin Higgins and Laura Andrews are unknown guards to coaches outside the state as both committed to Oklahoma early and suffered ACL injuries in January and March, 2002, respectively. Higgins forte is shooting the three where she has an uncanny range. Andrews is known for her ability to create her own shot. She will also add depth to OU's post position.

*Freshman center Casey Walker suffered a season ending ACL injury before preseason ever got started. This injury happened during the BCI Nationals in July.

The fall early signing period begins Wednesday, Nov. 13, and runs through Wednesday, Nov. 20.



Sooner Sports Properties, LLC, is the multimedia rights holder for athletics at the University of Oklahoma.
Sooner Sports Properties is a joint venture of Learfield Communications and Tyler Media, LLC.


Sooner Sports Powered by FOX Sports is a multi-platform network that provides distribution of 1,000+ hours of Sooner sports programming annually on a variety of FOX Sports outlets, including FOX Sports Oklahoma, FOX Sports Southwest, and FOX College Sports.