NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 3 Oklahoma women’s basketball team (6-0) will travel to South Carolina on Thursday to finish its six game, month-long road trip. The Sooners and Gamecocks will tip off at the Colonial Center at 7 p.m. Eastern.
The game will be televised live by Cox Communications (Channel 7 in Oklahoma City) with the regular team of Bob Carpenter (play-by-play) and Debbie Antonelli (color). ESPN Full Court subscribers can also access the telecast through that pay-per-view service. The game will also be carried on radio station KOKC (1520 AM) with Brian Brinkley (play-by-play) and Tara DeGiusti (color).
The undefeated Sooners enter the contest in the midst of a 20-game regular season winning streak, which includes 12 straight wins away from Norman with 11 of those victories coming in true road contests. If OU can defeat USC, it will tie Baylor for the second longest regular season winning streak in Big 12 history.
Last weekend OU defeated Tulsa 72-49 with its most complete game of the season. The first half was the Sooners most efficient of the season as they ran out to 40-21 lead. After Tulsa cut the lead to seven in the second half, OU exploded in the last five minutes to push the lead to the final 23 point differential. OU’s defense held TU to 16 field goals and 31 percent shooting.
South Carolina is 5-3 on the season with losses to Louisiana-Lafayette, North Carolina State and Penn State. The Gamecocks also have an impressive 32 point win over instate rival Clemson. USC leading scorer is senior forward Iva Sliskovic, who is averaging 11.4 points per game. At 6-5 Sliskovic and fellow starter Demetress Adams, who stands 6-4, will bring plenty of height to the paint.
The Sooners return to Norman for the first time in 28 days on Sunday, Nov. 10 to face Arkansas Pine-Bluff at 2 p.m.
Setting The Scene
Date: Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Tipoff: 7 p.m. Eastern
Venue: Colonial Center (18,000)
TV: COX Communications (Cox channel 7 in OKC and channel 3 in Tulsa) & ESPN Full Court
TV Talent: Bob Carpenter (PBP) and Debbie Antonelli (color)
Radio: KOKC (1520 AM) and Yahoo! Radio
Radio Talent: Brian Brinkley (Play-by-Play) & Tara DeGiusti
Tickets: (803) 777-4274
Player To Watch
Sophomore Courtney Paris will get plenty of attention in the paint from South Carolina’s starting forwards. Demetress Adams stands 6-4, while leading scorer Iva Sliskovic stands 6-5. That starting lineup is taller than OU’s expected starting front court of Courtney (6-4) and Ashley Paris (6-3). Courtney’s has adjusted to the extra attention and has flourished against constant double teams to the tune of 34 straight double-doubles.
Previewing South Carolina
South Carolina, which was picked to finish ninth in the SEC in the preseason media poll, is off to a 5-3 start. The Gamecocks have defeated East Tennessee State, North Carolina A&T, Clemson, Mercer and Fordham this season. USC’s losses have come to Penn State, Lousiana-Lafayette and NC State by an average of 12.6 points.
Head coach Susan Walvius has a career record of 136-132 over 10 seasons in Columbia. Walvius was named the 2002 SEC Coach of the Year and has led USC to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths.
The Gamecocks are led by their tall front line of Iva Sliskovic and Demetress Adams. The 6-5 Sliskovic is the team’s leading scorer at 11.4 points per game. Adams, who stands 6-4, is second on the team in scoring at 9.3 and leads the team in rebounding at 7.3.
The Gamecocks have six players averaging seven or more points, including reserves Kellindra Zackery and Lakesha Tolliver.
As a team USC is averaging 74.4 points per game, while shooting .388 from the field, .224 from 3-point range and .675 from the free throw line. USC’s prowess appears to be on the defensive end, where it is forcing 25.5 turnovers and 15.3 steals per game. The steals per game average is fifth in the NCAA this season. USC is also carrying a +13.4 rebounding margin.
Last season South Carolina went 17-12 with a 7-7 record in SEC play. The Gamecocks narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament before losing in the first round of the WNIT Postseason Championship to Xavier. The 2005-06 team set two defensive school records by limiting opponents to 56.8 points and .347 shooting last year. Current senior Melanie Johnson was a second team All-SEC selection, while Adams was named to the All-SEC freshmen team.
Thursday’s showdown will be the first ever between the two programs.
Seeking 1,000 Point Club Membership
Three current Sooners are hoping to join Leah Rush in the OU 1,000 point club. Rush reached the career milestone against Baylor on Feb. 12, 2006. She should have company from Courtney Paris, Chelsi Welch and Erin Higgins before the end of the season.
Below is a chart on the chase for 1,000:
Rush Moves Up To No. 16
During the Lamar game senior Leah Rush surpassed Mandy Wade, who had 1,148 points from 1992-95, for 16th place on the OU career scoring list. Rush has 1,176 points and is 15 shy of Lisa Allison (1984-87) at No. 15 with 1191.
Recap - at Tulsa
(AP) - Courtney Paris scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds for her 34th straight double-double despite sitting out more than 10 minutes with foul trouble for No. 3 Oklahoma in its 72-49 victory over Tulsa on Saturday.
Tulsa cut a 22-point deficit to single digits after Paris picked up three quick fouls in the second half and had to leave the game after getting her fourth foul on a post move by Jillian Robbins with 16:09 to play.
Robbins, the Conference USA player of the year last season, hit both of her free throws in the midst of a 20-7 run that brought the Golden Hurricane back within 54-45 after Robbins’ reverse layup with 7:18 left.
Paris returned at the 5:34 mark and immediately put the Sooners back in control. She converted a layup, then followed Chelsi Welch’s 3-pointer with a layup off an offensive rebound. Paris’ three-point play with 3:56 left extended Oklahoma’s lead to 64-47, and Leah Rush stretched it past 20 with a short jumper from the left side.
The Sooners (6-0) won their 11th straight road game, tying the Big 12 record set by the Sooners from 2000-01.
Robbins finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks to lead Tulsa (3-4), the defending Conference USA champions.
Rush scored a season-high 18 points and Welch had 12 for Oklahoma.
Rush, who scored 14 points in the first half, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start a 10-0 run that put the Sooners up 37-16 late in the first half. She also scored eight of Oklahoma’s first 10 points to help the Sooners to an early 10-5 lead, and they would never trail.
Tulsa held Oklahoma without a field goal for a five-minute span in the first half but was able to score only two points in the same period.
OU has won 11 straight true road games, which ties its own Big 12 record. OU set that mark at 11 straight games from December 2000 to December 2001.
OU had 14 turnovers and has committed just 25 turnovers in the last two games.
Courtney Paris reached 900 career points by making her first two free throw attempts against Tulsa. Paris needed 42 games to reach 900 career points. That is the fastest pace in OU history. The previous record was 51 games by Molly McGuire (1980-83). She is also the quickest to 900 points in Big 12 history. Paris career total now stands at 922
Leah Rush had made six straight 3-pointers after draining her first two attempts of the game. She missed her third attempt. She has made eight of her last nine attempts, including 4-of-5 against Tulsa, and is shooting 69 (9-13) percent from long range this season. She scored a season high 18 points, including 14 in the first half.
The Winning Streak
OU has won 20 straight regular season games dating back to Jan. 14, 2006. The streak is the third longest in Big 12 history behind a 21 game streak by Baylor and 25-gamer by Oklahoma (January 2001-December 2001).
OU has won 12 straight games away from Norman which is five shy of tying the Big 12 record of 16. The streak includes true road games and games at neutral sites. OU set that mark with 16 straight wins from December 2000 to December 2001.
OU has won 11 straight true road games, which is tied for the Big 12 record. OU set that original record at 11 straight games from December 2000 to December 2001.
OU is 41-1 when it is ranked in the top-10 and the opponent is not ranked. The lone loss came to Washington in the 2001 Sweet 16.
OU is averaging 83.5 points and 18.6 assists. Both numbers are up from last season when OU averaged 76.3 points and 16.8 assists.
OU will play seven of its 11 non-conference games away from Norman and the Lloyd Noble Center this season. It is nothing new for Sherri Coale’s program, which has played 63 (56-88) percent of its preconference game outside the Lloyd Noble Center since 1999-00. OU has won 75 (42-14) percent of its pre-conference road games during that time.
Paris Sets Pace to 900
Courtney Paris became the fastest player in OU and Big 12 history to reach 900 career points when she reached the milestone in her 42nd career game against Tulsa. Paris topped the 51-game pace former Sooner Molly McGuire (1980-83) needed to set the previous OU record. The OU Media Relations office is currently researching where she will stand on the NCAA list of quickest to 1,000 career points.
Paris & Putbacks
24 (32-134) percent of Courtney Paris’ points this season have come after she pulled down an offensive rebound. Of that total, 20 have come after her own miss and 12 have come after her teammates’ misses.
The Double-Double Streak
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in 34 straight games. The streak began against UCLA on Dec. 5, 2005.
The Half Double-Double
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in a single half on 12 occasions (5 first half, 7 second half). She has achieved the mark against UCLA (second half) and Tulsa (first half) this season.
Last year her four first half double-dips came against BYU, Texas (second meeting), UCLA and SMU. Her second half double-doubles were against New Mexico (twice), Illinois, Michigan State, Texas (first meeting) and Baylor (second meeting).
As usual, Paris shines in the brightest spotlight with six of these double-doubles coming against ranked teams.
On The Milestone Verge...
Courtney Paris is one double-double shy of 40 in her career. She is also 78 points shy of 1,000, two free throw attempts shy of 300, five steals shy of 50, 13 field goals shy of 300 and 23 assists shy of 100. Based on her current pace, Paris will easily be the fastest player in OU history to 1,000 career points. The Sooner center is also 50 rebounds shy of entering the OU career top-10 for rebounds. Melissa Richie (1986-89) is at No. 10 with 679.
Chelsi Welch is 37 points shy of the 1,000 point club.
Leah Rush (1,176) is 16 points shy of surpassing Lisa Allison (1,191) for No. 15 on the OU career scoring list.
Ashley Paris is three offensive rebounds shy of 100 in her career. She is also 14 boards shy of 200 and 32 points shy of 300.
Britney Brown is seven points shy of 400 in her career.
The Experience Factor
Notes on the level of experience OU has on its roster:
Between eight players, including six seniors, OU has 376 career starts. Sophomore Carolyn Winchester is the only non-freshman that has never started a game for OU.
Britney Brown had a streak of 25 consecutive starts snapped on opening night. She returned to the starting lineup against Hawaii (N18) and has started the last four games.
Since earning her first start at Texas A&M during her freshman season Leah Rush has started 92 straight games.
Forget The Hack-A-Shaq
Opponents might rethink the idea of employing the hack-a-Shaq defense on Courtney Paris at the end of games. The Sooner center shot 71 (27-38) from the free throw line in the final four minutes of games last season. She is 2-of-4 in that scenario this season and owns a career percentage of 69 (29-42) percent. Below are more number breakdowns for Paris at the charity stripe in the final four minutes of games.
Time to Talk About Rush
Leah Rush, the nation’s Most Underrated Player last season, is playing above the level that earned her All-Big 12 second team honors the last two seasons.
Over the last three games, Rush has been spectacularly consistent. In 31 minutes of action she is averaging 14.7 points while shooting 59 (16-27) percent from the field, 89 percent (8-9) from 3-point range and 80 percent (4-5) at the free throw line. She has also an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.75, which is dramatically better than her career ratio of 0.5.
On the season, Rush is shooting 69 percent from 3-point range to lead the Big 12. She is also 11th in the league in field goal percentage at 57 percent.
Welch Off To Strong Start
Much like Leah Rush, Chelsi Welch is off to a fast start to her senior season. The Plainview, Texas native is 27 points shy of 1,000 career points. She should approach that number in the next three games.
The 5-10 guard has scored in double-figures in four of six games this season, while tallying eight points in the other two games. She posted a season high 23 points in the season opener against DePaul. Last season, Welch only scored in double-figures in four games during the non-conference schedule
She appears to be picking up where she left off last year, when she scored in double figures in 14 of the final 24 games. She also dialed up her shooting percentage during that stretch and finished 11th in the Big 12 in field goal percentage during conference action. She also ranked No. 2 in conference-only games in 3-point percentage with a 44.9 mark.
This year, Welch ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 11th in the NCAA with 3-point percentage of .519. She is also 11th in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at .565.
OU is No. 2 in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.12. Senior guard Britney Brown is third among Big 12 players with a 2.36 ratio. Last season OU was eighth in the Big 12 with a ratio of 0.89.
Three in Double Figures, Two Near
Currently, three OU players are averaging double figures in points. Courtney Paris (22.3), Chelsi Welch (13.0) and Leah Rush (11.8) are in the double figure club. Ashley Paris (9.3) and freshman Amanda Thompson (8.5) are within striking range of double figures.
Last season only C. Paris (21.9) and Rush (10.9) were in double figures.
OU is yet to allow a team to shoot over 40 percent from the field and is holding opponents to a combined shooting percentage of .344. The highest shooting percentage posted against the Sooners this season was .387 by UCLA. The low mark was a .308 by Tulsa
Last season 12 of 36 opponents shot over 40 percent, while OU held all opponents to a combined percentage of 37 percent.
Owning The Boards
For the second consecutive season, OU is dominating the boards. Last year OU led the Big 12 and ranked second nationally with a rebounding margin of +10.7. This year, OU has outrebounded opponents by a minimum of nine in each game and owns a combined rebounding margin of +17.4, which currently ranks second in the Big 12. The Sooners are first the Big 12 in offensive rebounds (20 per game), second in overall rebounding (51) and sixth in defensive boards (28.2). Last season, OU collected 44.8 rebounds per game.
Glass cleaner Courtney Paris, who set the NCAA single season record for rebounds with 539 last season, is averaging 15.0 boards. Last season she averaged 15 per game. Amanda Thompson and Ashley Paris are also averaging 4.8 and 7.0, respectively.
The Sooners have collected 50 rebounds in three of six games with a season high of 56 against DePaul.