Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

Feb. 14, 2003

Norman, Okla. -
Quickly: Oklahoma (15-8, 6-4 Big 12) heads to Boulder, Colo., for a rematch of last year's NCAA West Regional title game against Colorado. OU ran the Buffs (17-4, 7-3 Big 12) out of the gym with a 34-point win in Boise, Idaho, which earned the Sooners and the Big 12 Conference their first trip to the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio, Texas.

Sunday's 3 p.m. (CST) matchup between OU and Colorado will air nationally on ESPN2 from inside the Coors Event Center.

This game is huge for both teams as they battle for the fourth position in the Big 12 Conference regular season standings. Colorado has a conference record of 7-3, while OU is 6-4.

The last time these two teams meet in Boulder, OU opened its Big 12 schedule with a 20-point victory, 89-69, the same night the OU football team was on its way to winning the 2000 National Championship over Florida State in Miami.

Both teams are on a two-game winning streak. Colorado defeated Kansas, 73-42, and picked up a 55-49 road win over Texas A&M. Oklahoma won its last two home games over Oklahoma State, 87-71, and Baylor, 78-64.

TV: Sunday's game will air nationally on ESPN2. Pam Ward (play-by-play) and Ann Meyers (color analyst) will call the action.

Radio: The game will be broadcast on KOMA (1520-AM) and the Internet at www.soonersports.com. James Hale (play-by-play) and Tara DeGiusti (color analyst) will bring you Sooner basketball.

Series Records: Colorado leads the all-time series, 31-14, however, OU has won five straight and six of its last eight games against the Buffs. In these six wins, Oklahoma owns a 14.8-point margin of victory. CU also owns a 15-3 series record when playing OU in Boulder.

The last time OU scored 100 points was in the OU-Colorado shootout in the semifinals of the 2001 Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Oklahoma defeated CU, 102-93, and later lost to Iowa State, 68-65, for the tournament title.

Colorado senior Linda Lappe is the only player in the CU team that has defeated OU. Lappe was a member of the 1999 club that escaped with a 63-62 win in Boulder on Jan. 9, which also marks the last time the two teams played each other unranked.

Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale is 6-3 against Colorado.

Rankings: Oklahoma and Colorado are not ranked in either the Associated Press or the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches polls. But, if you extend the polls OU would rank 27th/26th and Colorado 30th/34th, respectively.

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 128-81. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

Colorado Head Coach Ceal Barry (Kentucky, 1977) is in her 20th season coaching the Colorado Buffs. Barry, who recently coached her 600th game, sports an overall record of 389-211 at CU. She has been involved in coaching numerous U.S. Olympic and Junior teams, as well as, serving as the 2001 Big 12 All-Stars coach. Barry has guided 11 teams to 20 win seasons and earned 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Upcoming Opponent: Oklahoma takes on No. 7/8 Texas Tech on Wednesday, Feb. 19, in Lubbock, Texas. The game will be televised on the Sooner Sports Network at 7 p.m.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Oklahoma                            PPGRPG
14  CBeky Preston (6-3, Fr.)        3.33.4
35  GDionnah Jackson (5-9, So.)11.66.3
12  GLauren Shoush (5-11, So.)3.32.3
05  GMaria Villarroel (5-8, Jr.-TF.)15.64.5
00  GChelsi Welch (5-9, Fr.)        11.54.0

Colorado PPGRPG 22 FSabrina Scott (6-2, Sr.)10.86.8 13 FLinda Lappe (6-0, Sr.) 7.23.9 50 CTera Bjorklund (6-5, Jr.)16.76.4 10 GMaria Billingsley (5-6, Jr.)3.11.1 01 GKate Fagan (5-9, Jr.) 11.82.9

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.

Oklahoma's offensive power has returned as the Sooners are averaging 82.5 points per game and shooting a sound 48.0 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from the arc and a solid 79.5 percent from the foul line in their last two outings. OU's defense has also picked up, allowing opponents only 67.5 ppg and 35.0 rpg. OU has been grabbing 41 boards a contest and earned an assists/turnover ratio of 1.5 against Oklahoma State and Baylor.

OU has become more of an all-around team as four players average better than 10 points and four rebounds per game in conference play.

Against Oklahoma State last Sunday, Coale shuffled her lineup once again. Coale was starting three freshmen and two sophomores until junior Maria Villarroel re-entered the lineup against the Cowgirls.

Villarroel, a transfer from Northeast Oklahoma A&M, continues to lead the Sooners with 15.6 points per game and a 60.5 field goal percentage, which ranks seventh best in the NCAA and first in the Big 12 Conference. She also averages 4.5 rebounds per game and has a team-high 15 blocks. Villarroel has played in all 23 games, starting 21.

Starting all 23 games this season has been sophomore Dionnah Jackson. Jackson averages 11.6 points and team-best 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game. She also contributes 6.3 rebounds, second best on the club. Jackson's 2.6 assists/turnover ratio in Big 12 play leads the league.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has also started every game for the Sooners, averaging 11.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Over the last four games, Welch has been the team leader in scoring with 14.8 ppg. Plus, she's averaged 5.3 rebounds per contest and shot 94.4 percent from the free throw line.

Inside, senior center Theresa Schuknecht, a transfer from Arizona State, has come on strong over the last three games with a team-high 17.7 points and second-best 6.0 rebounds per game. She has connected on 47.4 percent from the field (18-of-38) and 85.0 percent from the foul line (17-of-20). However, she's been coming off the bench as of late.

Also appearing in the starting for Oklahoma at times has been sophomore guard Lauren Shoush and freshman center Beky Preston.

Shoush, an Oklahoma City native, brings an immediate burst of energy and excitement to the floor for the Sooners. In Shoush's last three outing she has averaged 8.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, including scoring a career-high 12 points on five of 10 shooting against Texas A&M (Jan. 5). Even though her numbers only reflect 3.3 ppg and 2.3 rpg, for the year, her presence means a lot more than just numbers.

Preston, a 6-3 center, has had five blocked shots and has been contributing 4.5 rpg, 4.3 ppg and shooting 50.0 percent from the field since becoming a starter. However, she only connected on 22.2 percent of her attempted free throws during this time span.

Appearing in the starting lineup nine times has been freshman forward Laura Andrews. 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 4.5 points and 4.4 rebounds but in league play she has started to blossom with 6.1 ppg and 6.0 rpg.

As a team, Oklahoma is averaging 67.9 points per game on offense, while allowing 62.2 points per game defensively for an average scoring margin of +5.7 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 28.9 percent (94-of-325) from three-point range.

A LOOK AT COLORADO
Like Oklahoma, Colorado is not ranked in the top 25 but receiving votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Polls.

Colorado entered Big 12 action with a non-conference record of 10-1 since then CU has lost to No. 4 Kansas State (61-36), No. 7 Texas Tech (80-58) and Missouri (71-52).

The Buffs have not played since defeating Texas A&M, 55-49, last Saturday (Jan. 8) in College Station. The Aggies were down by as much as 22 points in the second half, but cut the deficit to 53-49 with 39 seconds left in the game. Texas A&M outscored Colorado, 29-18, in the second half. It was Head Coach Ceal Barry's 600th game at Colorado.

Junior center Tera Bjorklund tops the Buffs with 16.7 points per game, followed by junior guard Kate Fagan's 11.8 and senior forward Sabrina Scott's 10.8 ppg. Scott is the team's leading rebounder at 6.8 rpg and assists at 3.1 apg. Fagan is among the NCAA best from three-point range, hitting 49.0 percent which ranks 30th in the NCAA. However, Fagan's impressive 42-of-43 performance at the charity stripe, 97.7 percent, does not rank among the NCAA best because she only averages 2.0 free throw attempts per game, NCAA minium is 2.5.

As a team, Colorado is averaging 68.2 points per game to its opponents 57.0 ppg. The Buffs are also outrebounding their opponents, 35.8 to 33.1.

JACKSON CONTROLLING THE COURT
Over the last two games, sophomore Dionnah Jackson has earned an amazing 4.5 assists/turnover ratio in 35 minutes of play.

Jackson had nine assists against Oklahoma State and Baylor to just three and one turnovers, respectively. Even though she only scored 6.5 points per game in these two outings, she averaged team highs of 8.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists.

The 5-9 guard established personal bests of 11 total rebounds and 10 defensive boards against Baylor Wednesday.

Jackson's career high in assists is 10, dished out against Texas (Jan. 29, 2003). She played 38 minutes against the Longhorns without committing a turnover.

OU'S OFFENSE SCORCHES THE COWGIRLS
After shooting only 30-plus percent against Texas A&M, Kansas State and Texas, the Sooners scorched the nets for a much improved 53.3 percent field goal shooting against Oklahoma State last Sunday. OU's 87-point effort against OSU matched its highest output since scoring the same amount in a win over Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 28. Oklahoma scored a season-best 90 points against Fordham on Nov. 29.

OU hit 32-of-60 attempted shots and nailed 18-of-22 attempted free throws ( 81.8 percent) against OSU. Both percentages rank second best for OU against Big 12 teams this season.

Four Sooners shot 60 percent or better from the floor. Sophomore guard Dionnah Jackson nailed 83.3 percent of her shots (5-of-6), followed by freshman Laura Andrew's 75.0 percent performance (3-of-4) and senior Theresa Schuknecht's 58.8 percent (10-of-17) plus freshman Chelsi Welch's 60.0 percent (6-of-10) effort.

Only junior guard Maria Villarroel is shooting better than 50 percent from the field for the year. The Margarita, Venezuela, native is hitting 60.5 percent (133-of-220) of her shots, ranking her seventh nationally.

The last time OU shot over 50 in a single game was in it 39-point victory over Texas A&M on Jan. 18 in Norman. They hit a season-best 54.9 percent from the field (28-of-51) and shot 80 percent from the foul line (16-of-20) against the Aggies.

For the year, the quartet of Villarroel, Jackson, Welch and Schuknecht accounts for 74.3 percent of the team's points. They have scored 1,161 of OU's 1,562 points.

COLORADO-OKLAHOMA CONNECTION
Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale and Colorado's center Tera Bjorklund were both members of the bronze medal winning 2001 U.S. Junior National Team. Coale served as an assistant coach, while Bjorklund was a player.

SOONERS BOMB THE BEARS
Oklahoma has not been a solid three-point shooting team this season, but when OU plays Baylor, the Sooners have canned 19-of-50 three pointers, for 38.0 percent. In all other games, OU has only hit 27.3 percent from beyond the arc (75-of-275) and in Big 12 games, not including vs. Baylor, the Sooners have managed 24.7 percent (24-of-97) clip from three-point land.

Freshmen Laura Andrews and Chelsi Welch had success against Baylor. In their first two-game series against BU, Andrews hit 8-of-15 threes (53.3%), while Welch nailed 7-of-16 treys (43.8%).

For the season, Andrews averages 2.9 threes per game but against Baylor she has pulled the trigger on 7.5 threes per game. Her three-point field goal accuracy is just 25.0 percent for the season but it jumps up to 53.3 percent when playing the Lady Bears. The Washington, Okla., native has hit eight of her 17 made threes this season against Baylor.

ROSS GOES INTO OKLAHOMA CHRISTIAN ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME
Seventh-year assistant coach Jan Ross will be inducted into Oklahoma Christian University Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 15.

As a player at Oklahoma Christian, she was an NAIA All-America honorable mention, All-District IX and All-Sooner Athletic Conference selection as a senior (1986). She also was an NAIA Scholar Athlete and was elected to Who's Who. An all-state athlete at Putnam City West, Ross ranks No. 11 on Oklahoma Christian's career scoring list with 1,348 points. She holds the school record for career steals (300) and completed her career with a. 537 field goal percentage and 494 assists.

After ending her collegiate career with OCU, Ross joined the program as an assistant coach for five years and served as assistant athletic director for two years.

The Chickasha, Okla., native played prep ball at Putnam City West. Ross received her bachelor's degree in mathematics with a minor in physical education from Oklahoma Christian (1986) and her master's degree in sports administration from Oklahoma (1990).

WELCH - CANDIDATE FOR BIG 12 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Freshman Chelsi Welch has come up with stellar performances against Big 12 opponents. The Plainview, Texas, native has scored at least 10 points in nine of 10 Big 12 games, including a career-high 20 against Texas. She also dropped 18 vs. Baylor and 17 against Oklahoma State and at Nebraska.

Welch has improved her point production to a team-best 14.0 points per game against conference opponents. She also averages 3.8 rebounds per game and increased her shooting percentages to 37.6 percent from the field, 34.0 percent from beyond the arc and 90.6 percent from the free throw line. The 5-9 guard ranks first in the league in free throw accuracy, seventh in three-point field goals made per game and 10th in scoring for all games.

Against other freshmen in the league, Welch currently ranks second in scoring (11.5 ppg), third in free throw percentage (80.0%), seventh in steals (1.30 spg) and rebounds (4.0 rpg), ighth in assists (1.57 apg) and 11th in three-point field goal percentage (31.2%).

JACKSON BATTLEING WITH THE BIG GIRLS
Dionnah Jackson is the only point guard, an only guard, in the Big 12 Conference that ranks among the league's top 20 in rebounds per game. Jackson averages 6.3 overall boards and per contest, ranking 16th best in the Big 12. In league games only, she's increased that average to 7.0 rebounds for 10th best.

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 2.6, compare to a 1.2 assists/turnover ratio in non-conference action.

The St. Louis, Mo., native 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 most recent performance of nine assists to one turnover in 36 minutes of court time against Baylor Wednesday. 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 eight games, she has nailed 84.6 percent 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.

SOONER STREAK ENDS
OU had it's 58 straight ranking weeks of being among the nation's top 25 teams snapped Monday as the Sooners dropped out of the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN/Coaches top 25 polls for the first time since Oklahoma made its initial appearance under current Sooner coach Sherri Coale on Jan. 17, 2000.

SCHUKNECHT EARNS BIG 12 HONOR
After scoring a career-high 28 points in Oklahoma's 87-71 thrashing of Oklahoma State, OU's Theresa Schuknecht was named the Big 12 newcomer of the week. The 6-3 center scored 21 of her game-high 28 points in the second half by connecting on 10-of-17 shots from the field (58.8%) and 8-of-9 free throws (88.9%). She also had a team-high seven rebounds in 25 minutes of action.

Schuknecht averaged 20.0 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 48.0 percent from the field (12-of-25) and 88.9 percent from the foul line (16-of-18) against OSU and Texas A&M. She added two assists, one steal and one blocked shot to her totals. She came off the bench and played an average of 23.5 minutes a contest.

The Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, native had 12 points, five rebounds and hit 8-of-9 free throws against Texas A&M earlier in the week. Schuknecht included one assist, one steal and one blocked shot in 22 minutes of play. OU lost to the Aggies, 69-61.

Oklahoma has claimed three Big 12 newcomer of the week honors and one player of the week selection this season.

CHARITY POINTS GIVE SOONERS ADVANTAGE
Oklahoma's 378 free throws scored from the charity stripe tops the Big 12 Conference. OU is the only team that has attempted more than 500 free throws this year (537).

In league play the Sooners have only scored 145 points, third to Texas' 172 and Texas Tech's 146. Oklahoma ranks fourth in overall games (70.4%) and in league games (72.1%) for best free throw percentages.

OU has appeared at the free throw line at least 20 times in 16 of 23 games and has hit 80 percent or better from the charity stripe seven times, including a season-best 84.2 percent (16-of-19) at Kansas and 81.8 percent (18-of-22) against Oklahoma State.