No. 22 Oklahoma Set For Rematch of Big 12 Tournament Title Game

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 24, 2003

Jan. 24, 2003

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Norman, Okla. -

Quickly: Oklahoma (12-5, 3-1 Big 12) wraps up a two-game road streak Sunday (Jan. 26) as the Sooners travel to Waco, Texas to face the Lady Bears of Baylor (13-3, 2-2 Big 12). The two will face off at 2 p.m. inside the Ferrell Center.

Both teams are coming off of Big 12 wins. OU defeat Kansas, 61-49, in Lawrence while Baylor cruised by Texas A&M, 66-49, in Waco.

TV: Brian Brinkley (play-by-play) and former OU great and All-American Stacey Dales-Schuman (color analyst) will call the action for the Sooner Sports Network Sunday. The following stations will carry the game: KSBI-TV in Oklahoma City (Ch. 9), Cox Cable in Tulsa (Ch. 78), KOMI 24 in Woodward, Lawton Cable 84 and Cable One (Ch. 20) in Ardmore.

Radio: The game will be broadcast live on KOMA (1520-AM) and on the Internet at James Hale and Tara DeGiusti will call the action for the Sooners.

Rankings: Oklahoma is ranked 22nd in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches polls. Baylor is not ranked.

Series Records: Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 13-4, and has won its last nine games against Baylor, including an 84-69 victory in the Big 12 Tournament title game a year ago. OU has not lost in Waco since 1998 (97-67). Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale is 9-4 against Baylor.

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 125-78. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

Baylor Head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson (Louisiana Tech, 1984) has produced a career record of 61-18 in three short years of coaching the Lady Bears. She guided BU to a second-place finish in the Big 12 Tournament and regular season (14-2). Mulkey-Robertson also guided the Lady Bears to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Waco where they were upset by Drake, 76-72.

Upcoming Opponents: Oklahoma will host two nationally-ranked teams next week in No. 16 Texas (12-4, 5-0) and No. 3 Kansas State (17-1, 4-0).

The Red River Shootout is schedule for Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. while KSU travels to Norman on Saturday, Feb. 1, for a 2 p.m. battle.

Probable Starters

Oklahoma                             PPG RPG
22  CTheresa Schuknecht (6-3, Sr.-TF)11.87.3
33  G/FLaura Andrews (6-0, Fr.)3.13.4
35  GDionnah Jackson (5-9, So.)12.56.3
0   GChelsi Welch (5-9, Fr.)        10.23.8
5   GMaria Villarroel (5-8, Jr.-TF)7.74.6

Baylor PPGRPG 44 FStasha Richards (5-11, Sr.)6.94.1 50 FDionne Brown (6-2, Jr.) 8.35.3 45 CSteffanie Blackmon (6-2, So.)19.28.3 02 GChelsea Whitaker ( 5-9, So.)7.42.9 10 GJessika Stratton (5-10, Jr. 10.13.8

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. Hill is one of four OU players out for the season with knee injuries, including freshman Casey Walker and Erin Higgins, and most recently, senior Stephanie Simon.

Despite the new look, Oklahoma continued its success during a rugged non-conference schedule. Four of OU's five losses came against top 10 teams, with setbacks to No. 2 Tennessee (94-68), No. 5 Connecticut (73-60), No. 6 Stanford (58-38) along with a narrow loss to SMU (71-68). OU also owns a 66-63 victory over No. 12 North Carolina on Nov. 30. OU's only loss in Big 12 play has been to No. 7 Texas Tech (80-71).

Junior guard Maria Villarroel, a transfer from Northeast Oklahoma A&M, leads the Sooners with 17.7 points per game and a 63.6 field goal percentage, which ranks nationally. She also averages 4.6 rebounds per game.

Sophomore Dionnah Jackson joins Villarroel in double figures with 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and a team-high 4.5 assists per game.

Inside, senior center Theresa Schuknecht, a transfer from Arizona State, has added 11.8 points and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per contest.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has also started every game for the Sooners, averaging 10.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Freshman forward Laura Andrews (3.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg) claimed the fifth starting spot with the loss of Simon and Hill.

The Sooners are averaging 68.9 points per game on offense, while allowing 60.5 points per game defensively for an average scoring margin of +8.4 points per game. Last season, OU owned an average scoring margin of +16.3 points per game (78.2-61.9).

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 29.2 percent (64-219) from three-point range, compared to their 36.4 percent (211-580) success rate from long range last season.

A Look At Baylor
Baylor is a lot like Oklahoma as the Lady Bears lost four of its five starters from last year's team and currently has a roster that's dominated by youth. But this youth and a fairly experienced team has found a way to be ranked among the nation's best in nine team categories. (see NCAA Best box in right column)

BU enters Sunday's game with an overall record of 13-3 and Big 12 mark of 2-2. The Lady Bears have loss to nationally-ranked Texas (70-50) and Texas Tech (62-48) away from the Ferrell Center. Missouri (71-65) and Texas A&M (66-49) have been victims of the Lady Bears.

Baylor opened its season by winning 12 of its first 13 games with its only loss coming at Montana State (75-66) on Nov. 30. BU enters Sunday's game 0-2 when playing ranked teams.

Sophomore Steffanie Blackmon had her seventh double double of the season Wednesday against Texas A&M. She had game-highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. For the year, she averages a team-best 19.2 points, which ranks second in the Big 12 Conference and 24th nationally. Her 8.3 rebounds per game also ranks second on the team and sixth in the league. Blackmon is joined by freshman Sophia Young and junior Jessika Stratton in the double digits scoring column. Young averages 11.9, while Stratton contributes 10.1 ppg. Stratton boasts a team and league best assist/turnover ratio of 2.6 and three-point field goal percentage of 48.8 percent, hitting 21-of-43 shots from beyond the arc. She also ranks seventh in the league and among the NCAA elite in free throw percentage with 86.0 percent (49-of-57). Young's 9.0 boards per game tops the Big 12.

As a team, BU averages an impressive 80.2 points, while their opponents are only allowed to score 55.0 points per game. The Lady Bears are outrebounding their opponents, 43.9 to 35.2.

Sooner Briefs
Oklahoma nailed a season-best 84.2 percent (16-19) of its free throws at Kansas Wednesday. The Sooners have hit 80 percent or better from the stripe in five games this season. OU also matched a season low 31 rebounds at KU, while the Jayhawks had an OU opponent season-high 30 turnovers.

Kansas became the first team this season to out rebound OU on the defensive end. OU had 16, while KU collected 19 defensive rebounds.

Oklahoma is 8-0 when making more field goals than its opponent. OU is also 9-0 when leading at halftime.

Oklahoma shot a season-best 54.9 (28-51) percent from the field and 45.9 (5-11) percent from the arc against Texas A&M. OU also shot 80.0 percent from the foul line.

Oklahoma leads the Big 12 Conference, for league games, in steals per game as the Sooners are averaging 12.75 thefts an outing. OU pocketed a season-high 17 steals against Texas A&M.

Junior guard Maria Villarroel is averaging 19.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in games played inside the Lloyd Noble Center compare to just 14.1 points and 3.3 boards in games played away from the center. She is also hitting 69.8 percent of her shots at home. In games that OU has lost, Villarroel has only scored 13.6 points per contest.

Sophomore guard Dionnah Jackson also prefers to play at home, averaging 14.0 ppg as to 10.3 ppg on the road. Jackson also shoots 51.9 percent from the field in games that the Sooners have won compare to shooting just 26.2 percent in OU's losses.

Preferring to play on the road is freshman Chelsi Welch. Welch averages 11.9 ppg to her 9.3 ppg at home. She also averages 4.0 rebounds a game on the road to 3.2 boards at home.

Shoush Brings Energy to Team
Oklahoma City sophomore Lauren Shoush has been the pipe line of the OU women's basketball energy source as of late. Shoush's intensity has sparked Sooner runs in the Texas A&M and Kansas games.

Shoush started the second half and played a career-high 28 minutes against the Jayhawks. She turned in five points, had three rebounds, three steals and an assist. Her minutes were more than just numbers, she was divining for loose balls, jumping into passing lanes and battling for every rebound.

The Putnam City North High School graduate is averaging 3.3 points, 2.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game in Big 12 match ups. But, what's more impressive is her 100 percent effort.

OU Goes For 500th Victory in program history
Oklahoma is one victory shy of its 500th win in program history. Current and previous Sooner teams have established an overall record of 449-371 in 28 years (.548 winning percentage).

Head Coach Sherri Coale has been responsible for 125 of those victories. Coale is 17 wins shy of tying OU's all-time winningest coach Maura McHugh's 142 victory mark.

OU Ranks 15th in National Attendance
Oklahoma is ranked 15th in an unofficial NCAA Division I Women's Basketball home attendance survey, which is compiled by the University of Wisconsin Women's Sports Information Office. The Sooners are averaging 4,733 fans overall. Topping the overall chart is Connecticut's 13,668, Tennessee's 12,720 and Texas Tech's 12,025 fans per game. Six Big 12 schools rank among the nation's top 25 in attendance.

Sooners Among Big 12 Leaders
Junior Maria Villarroel reclaimed her No. 1 ranking in the Big 12 Conference for best field goal percentage after going 9 of 9 against Texas A&M and 8 of 12 at Kansas. Villarroel is shooting an impressive 63.6 percent from the field. She also ranks fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 17.7 ppg but tops the conference with 20.2 ppg in league play. Villarroel pockets 2.18 steals per game, for 10th place. In league games only, the 5-8 guard ranks sixth in steals (2.75) and field goal percentage (62.8%), seventh in free throw percentage (87.1%) and 12th in offensive boards (3.0).

Senior Theresa Schuknecht, sophomore Dionnah Jackson and freshman Chelsi Welch also ranks among the conference best in scoring. Jackson ranks 18th (12.5 ppg), followed by Schuknecht at 22nd (11.8 ppg) and Welch at 27th (10.2 ppg).

Schuknecht climbs back up to fifth in free throw percentage, hitting 86.7 percent of her shots, drops to fifth in offensive rebounds (3.29) and stays at 10th in total rebounds (7.3 rpg).

Jackson moves up to 16th in rebounds per game (6.3), is 13th in defensive boards (4.71), ninth in assists (4.53) and 13th in assists/turnover ratio (1.20), but moves up to fifth in steals (2.47).

Welch ranks among the league's top free throw shooters, hitting 75.5 percent from the charity stripe. This mark is 13th best in the conference.

Two Minutes Stretch
Oklahoma sports a solid 70.8 free throw percentage in the final two minutes of the game. The Sooners have hit 46-of-65 attempted free throws down the stretch.

Player Performances Under the Two-Minute Mark

Players             FTM   FTAPct.
Chelsi Welch      4  41.000
Lauren Shoush      2  21.000
Caton Hill      2  21.000
Erin Higgins      2  21.000
Maria Villarroel     13  16.813
Theresa Schuknecht    4  5.800
Laura Andrews      4  6.670
Dionnah Jackson      9  14.643
Antoinette Wadsworth  1  1.500
Kate Scott      1  2.500
Beky Preston      3  7.429
Stephanie Luce      1  4.250

RPI Rankings
Oklahoma is currently ranked 12th in the Women's RPI and the WBCA/Summerville RPI polls and 22nd in Jeff Sagarin RPI poll.

Baylor's RPI ranking is 77th, while the Big 12 Conference is ranked sixth in the WBCA/Summerville RPI poll.

Wadsworth Coming on Strong for Sooners
OU freshman-redshirt Antoinette Wadsworth has picked up her play in Big 12 action. The Grand Prairie, Texas, native is averaging 2.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 11.3 minutes a contest. She is also shooting 50.0 percent from the field, hitting three of six attempted shots, against Big 12 teams.

For the year, she has played in 11 games with averages of 2.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game plus boast a field goal percentage of 50.0 (11-of-22) percent.

Big 12 Freshmen Best
Oklahoma freshman Chelsi Welch currently ranks among the Big 12 top rookies in several statistical categories. Welch ranks third among the freshmen class in steals (1.53 spg), fourth in scoring with 10.2 points per game and eighth in rebounds (3.8) per game.

Freshman-redshirt Antionette Wadsworth ranks 11th in field goal percentage (50.0%) and 17th in rebounds per game with 2.4. In addition, freshman Laura Andrews ranks 11th with 3.4 boards per outing.

Even though she only played three games, freshman standout Erin Higgins racked up some impressive numbers to rank among the leagues top rookies. Higgins leads the league for best free throw percent (100%, 6-6), tied for second for best three-point field goal percentage (50%, 8-16), fifth in scoring (10.0 ppg) and seventh in steals (1.33 spg).

Free Throw War
Oklahoma and Texas Tech performances at the free throw line on Jan. 15 tops the Big 12 Conference charts for a single game performance for most made and attempted free throws in league play.

TTU and OU each appeared at the stripe 36 times, with the Lady Raiders making 28 and OU scoring 27 from the charity stripe.

Junior Maria Villarroel's 10 made foul shots against TTU is a Big 12 single game best, while her 11 attempts and 90.9 free throw percentage ranks second in conference action.

20-Point Club
Oklahoma has had three different players to score 20-or-more points in 12 different games. Junior Maria Villarroel tops the team in this category with seven 20-plus point performances, most recently against seventh-ranked Texas Tech (20), Texas A&M (21) and Kansas (23). Senior Theresa Schuknecht has had three games where she's score better than 20 points and sophomore Dionnah Jackson has performed this task twice.

Villarroel is the only Sooner to have netted 30-or-more points in a single game. She's done it twice (30 vs. Fordham and 31 vs. Sam Houston State).

Double Trouble
Senior Theresa Schuknecht and sophomore Dionnah Jackson are the only two active players to have produced a double double this season. Schuknecht has done it twice, while Jackson performance this trick for the first time against Wichita State (Dec. 9) with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Schuknecht had a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds in her first game in a Sooner uniform at Tennessee (Nov. 10). She nearly repeated her numbers with 20 points and 12 rebounds against Stephen F. Austin (Dec. 5) for her second double-double.

Caton Hill had three double doubles to open the season before being sidelined.



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