Sooners Return From Break To Face Otahkians

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
DECEMBER 26, 2002

Dec. 26, 2002

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Opponent: Southeast Missouri State (6-3)
Date: Saturday, Dec. 28, 2002
Site: Lloyd Noble Center (12,000)
Television: None
Radio: KOMA (1520 AM) and
Tickets: Tickets are still available. To purchase call 405-325-GoOU.
Promotion: "$3 Discount Coupon" can be printed off from the OU Athletic Website at


Quickly: Oklahoma (8-3) will host Southeast Missouri State (6-3) at 3 p.m. inside the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, Dec. 28. This game marks the first action for both teams since Dec. 21. The Sooners look to get back on the winning track against the Otahkians as they had their 25-game home winning streak snapped by SMU, 71-68, on Dec. 21. The Otahkians finished third in the St. Louis Coca-Cola/Billiken Classic before the Holiday break.

TV: None

Radio: All of OU's games will be broadcast live on KOMA (1520-AM) and on the Internet at Brian Brinkley and Tara DeGiusti will call the game. Sooner fans may also view the game through GameTracker on the women's basketball website under schedule.

Rankings: Oklahoma is ranked 19th in the AP and 20th in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches polls. Southeast Missouri State is not ranked.

Series Records: Saturday marks the first meeting between the two schools.

Tickets: Single game tickets can be purchased for a small price. 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

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 121-76.

B.J. Smith (Southwestern College, 1989) is in his first season with Southeast Missouri State. Prio to SEMO, he built Northeastern Oklahoma A&M into a national junior college power house with a three year record of 98-7 and national runner up finish last season. Smith coached former Sooner standout Rosalind Ross and current Sooner Maria Villarroel while at NEO. He earned NJCAA Region Coach of the Year honors in 2000 and 2002, the same seasons Ross (2000) and Villarroel (2002) played for Smith.

Southeast Missouri State is under the new guidance of Head Coach B.J. Smith. Smith, formly with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, has his team off to an 6-3 start. The Otahkians finished third at the St. Louis Coca-Cla/Billiken Classic in St. Louis, Mo., before the Holiday break. SEMO lost to Indiana State, 82-71, in the opening round of the tournament before defeating Gardner-Webb, 98-63, for third-place finish. Junior Carina Souza was named to the all-tournament team as she averaged 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for the two-day tournament. In the championship game, Saint Louis defeated Indiana State, 67-53.

SEMO's other two losses have been on the road against SMS, 85-76, and Wisconsin-Green Bay, 74-49.

The Otahkians are lead by senior forward Lori Chase who averages team best of 14.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. She's also very effective at the free throw line, hitting 84.3 percent from the stripe, 36.0 percent from the arc and 54.4 from the field.

Juniors Carina Souza , Kenja White and Yashika Sidbury also contributes 10-plus points per game. Souza accounts for 12.9, followed by White's 12.3 and Sidbury's 12.1 ppg. Souza and Sidbury pulls down 5.2 rebounds each per outing.

Junior guard Sarah Costello tops SEMO in assists and steals with 41 and 29 on the season.

As a team, SEMO averages 80.2 points and 36.4 rebounds per game. They are also shooting 44.9 percent from the field, 77.5 percent from the foul line and 29.2 percent from the arc.

SEMO ended its 2002 season with an overall record of 16-12 and 8-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Coach Smith returns five letterwinners and two starters from that team.

After a five-day Holiday break, Oklahoma returns to the court looking for a victory after having its 25-game winning streak snapped against SMU on Dec. 21.

In that game, OU out rebounded the Mustangs, 44-33, and shot 42.1 percent from the field (24-of-57), while SMU hit 41.8 percent from the floor (28-67). OU also shot 80 from the charity stripe, hitting 16-of-20 attempted free throws. SMU shot 66.7 percent from the foul line (8-of-12). However, the Sooners could not over come 25 turnovers compare to SMU's 15.

OU was dealt a blow when the team lost senior Caton Hill and freshman Erin Higgins to torn ACLs on Nov. 26.

However, junior guard Maria Villarroel has filled the scoring void for the Sooners, as she's tallied 195 points to average 17.7 ppg. She has posted two 30+ point games this season - 31 vs. Sam Houston State and 30 vs. Fordham.

Senior Theresa Schuknecht has connected on 90.0 percent of her free throw attempts (45-of-50) to lead players with more than 10 made free throws. Schuknecht is also pacing the squad with 7.6 rebounds per game. She has scored 10 points or more in six of OU's 10 games.

Sophomore Dionnah Jackson tops the team with 54 assists (4.9 apg) and 24 steals (2.2 spg). She has also scored the team's second most points with 135, 12.3 ppg.

As a team, Oklahoma is shooting 42.8 percent from the field and 69.5 percent from the foul line. OU also averages 71.0 points to its opponents' 63.7 points per game.

Women's athletics originated at Southeast Missouri State in the spring of 1973. But what were women's team going to be nickednamed began to cross everyon's mind? The first year the woen were called the Lady Indians, or the Indianettes or just the SEMO women. None seemed appropriate to the coaches or school adminstration. A contest was held to provide the SEMO women a nickname. Don Jewell submitted the winn name - the Otahkians. The name is derived from Princess Otahki of hte Cherokee Indians. During the 1838-39 winter, the Cherokees were forced to move westward into Oklahoma. May died during the dreadful winter trek, several in the Cape Girardeau area, which is now known as Trail of Tears State Park. One of those who died was Princess Otahki, the daughter of the Cherokee chief, Rev. Jesse Bushyhead. The Rev. Bushyhead and Otahki's husband Sam Hilderbrand erected a tomb to mark where Cherokee's "princess" had died. A permanent shrine has since been erected to remember Princess Otahki and the other Cherokees who perished during their walk to Oklahoma.

Junior Maria Villarroel and senior Theresa Schuknecht currently ranks among the NCAA leaders in field goal and free throw percentages as of Dec. 16, 2002. Villarroel ranks fourth in the nation with a 67.0 field goal percentage, while Schuknecht's 91.3 free throw percentage mark is tied for 23rd.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has hit 12 consecutive free throws dating back to the Stephen F. Austin game on Dec. 5. The Plainview, Texas, native opened the season connecting on only five of 12 free throws against Tennessee (11/10).



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