Norman, Okla. Oklahoma senior guard Maria Villarroel was named the most valuable player of the South America Tournament in Ecuador after averaging 23 points per game. Villarroel returned home to participate on the Venezuela National Team in an effort to pre-qualify her country for the Pan American and pre-Olympic games.
The eight-time national team member also canned a tournament-high 20 three pointers and was the leading scorer.
"I was very proud to represent my home country," said Villarroel. "This was a great opportunity for me to work on my defense and get better as a player."
Brazil defeated Argentina in the championship game, while Chile escaped with a one-point victory over Venezuela for the final qualifying spot. In the consolation game, Villarroel nailed a career-high nine of 13 three-pointers for an impressive 69.2 three-point field goal percentage, while playing within international guidelines (men size basketball and a deeper three-point line).
"We are very proud of Maria and thrilled with her performance," said Coale. "Shes a special individual who has great pride for her country. We are honored to have her as a member of our family at the University of Oklahoma."
Villarroel led the Sooners with 15.0 points per game and ranked 14th in the NCAA with a 57.6 field goal percentage, a Big 12 best. At 5-8, she also topped OU with 21 blocked shots and ranked fourth with 5.0 rebounds per game.