Oklahoma Set For Rematch Against Baylor

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 11, 2003

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Feb. 11, 2003

Norman, Okla. -
Quickly: Oklahoma (14-8, 5-4 Big 12) will face Baylor (15-6, 4-5 Big 12) for the second time this season when the two teams conclude its two game regular season series on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. inside the Lloyd Noble Center.

Since the two teams last meet, Oklahoma has gone 1-3 and Baylor 2-2. The Sooners defeated Oklahoma State Sunday, 87-71, while BU lost to Kansas State, 65-53, in its last game.

Kansas State, Texas Tech and Texas leads the league with 8-1 records, followed by Colorado's 7-3 performance. Missouri and OU are tied for fifth-place in the conference standings with 5-4 marks, while Baylor and Iowa State each have 4-5 records against Big 12 teams. Texas A&M (2-7), Kansas (2-8), Nebraska (1-8) and Oklahoma State (1-8) rounds out the lower half of the league.

Promotion: Sooner fans can print off a $3 discounted coupon from Oklahoma's official athletics website at soonersports.com. Present the coupon for a regular adult general admission ticket of $5 ($3 off the regular price).

OU Tickets: Single game tickets for 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 soonersports.com.

TV: None

Radio: Wednesday's game can be heard on the Sooner Sports Network. Sooner fans can tune to one of 15 stations, including KOMA (1520-AM) and the Internet at www.soonersports.com, to hear play-by-play by Brian Brinkley and color analyst Tara DeGiusti. A list of Sooner Sports Network stations can be found on page four of this release.

Series Records: Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 14-4, and has won its last 10 games against Baylor, including an 65-64 last second win in Waco earlier this season and an 84-69 victory in the Big 12 Tournament title game a year ago. OU has not lost to Baylor in Norman since 1998 (64-62). Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale is 10-4 against the Lady Bears.

Rankings: Oklahoma and Baylor are not ranked in either the Associated Press or the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches polls this week.

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 127-81. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

Baylor Head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson (Louisiana Tech, 1984) has produced a career record of 63-20 in three short years of coaching the Lady Bears. She guided BU to a second-place finish in the 2002 Big 12 Tournament and regular season (14-2). Mulkey-Robertson also guided the Lady Bears to the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament in Waco where they were upset by Drake, 76-72.

Upcoming Opponent: Oklahoma travels to Boulder, Colo., to face Colorado on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 inside the Coors Event Center.


Oklahoma                           PPGRPG 
14 CBeky Preston (6-3, Fr.) 3.33.3 35 GDionnah Jackson (5-9, So.)12.06.0 12 GLauren Shoush (5-11, So.)3.12.2 5 GMaria Villarroel (5-8, Jr.)15.34.5 0 GChelsi Welch (5-9, Fr.) 11.23.9

Baylor                        PPGRPG 
33 FSophia Young (6-1, Fr.) 12.09.1 44 FStasha Richards (5-11, Sr.)6.44.0 45 CSteffanie Blackmon (6-2, So.)17.38.1 10 GJessika Stratton (5-10, Jr.) 10.13.9 22 GJordan Davis (5-9, So.) 6.62.6

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 returned Sunday against Oklahoma State. The Sooners scored their second most points of the year, 87, while hitting their second most field goals of the season, 32. OU also shot a sizzling 53.3 percent from the field (32-of-60) and 81.8 percent from the foul line (18-of-22), plus an improved 35.7 percent from beyond the arc (5-of-14).

For the year, OU has four players averaging better than 10 points and four rebounds per game. However, no starting position is safe if you're not producing. Against Oklahoma State Sunday, Coale shuffled her lineup once again. At times, Coale will start three freshmen and two sophomores but junior Maria Villarroel was back among the top five against the Oklahoma State.

Villarroel, a transfer from Northeast Oklahoma A&M, leads the Sooners with 15.3 points per game and a 60.1 field goal percentage, which ranks sixth best in the NCAA and first in the Big 12 Conference. She also averages 4.5 rebounds per game and shots 33.3 percent from the arc.

Starting all 21 games this season has been sophomore Dionnah Jackson. Jackson joins Villarroel in double figures with 12.0 points per game. She also averages 6.0 rebounds, second best on the club, and owns team highs of 4.8 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Jackson's 2.2 assists/turnover ratio in Big 12 play leads the league.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has also started every game for the Sooners, averaging 11.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Over the last four games, Welch has been the team leader in scoring with 15.3 ppg. Plus, she's averaged 5.0 rebounds per contest and shot 87.5 percent from the free throw line against Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas and Baylor.

Inside, senior center Theresa Schuknecht, a transfer from Arizona State, has added 11.8 points and a team-leading 6.5 rebounds per contest, but her conference numbers only reflects 4.6 rpg. She has been coming off the bench as of late.

Starting for OU in nine of the last 12 games has been freshman forward Laura Andrews. Andrews came up huge for the Sooners against Baylor with career highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds. For the season, she's averaging 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds but in league play she has started to blossom with 5.6 ppg and 5.7 rpg.

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 two outing she has averaged 10.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, including scoring a career-high 12 points on five of 10 shooting against Texas A&M last Wednesday. She also shot 46.7 percent from the field and averaged three assists last week. Even though her numbers only reflect 3.1 ppg and 2.2 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 4.2 rpg, 4.4 ppg and shooting 52.6 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.

As a team, Oklahoma is averaging 67.5 points per game on offense, while allowing 62.1 points per game defensively for an average scoring margin of +5.3 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 30.1 percent (85-301) from three-point range.

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 filled with youth. But Baylor's youth and a fairly experienced squad has found a way to be ranked among the nation's best in 10 team categories. (see NCAA Best box on page 3)

BU enters Wednesday's game with an overall record of 15-6 and Big 12 mark of 4-5. Since BU last faced Oklahoma, the Lady Bears have gone 2-2 with a double overtime win over Iowa State (95-83) in Waco and a road victory at Nebraksa (69-44). Baylor lost to Colorado (66-59) in Boulder, following the OU game, while Kansas State defeated the Lady Bears (65-53) in Waco Saturday.

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.

Baylor has four players averaging double digits in scoring, lead by sophomore Steffanie Blackmon and freshman Sophia Young. Blackmon averages a team-best 17.3 points, which ranks fifth in the Big 12 and 38th nationally. Her 8.1 rebounds per game also ranks second on the team and sixth in the league. Young tops the club and the Big 12 with 9.1 rebounds per game, while contributing 12.0 points a contest. Juniors Jessika Stratton and Dionne Brown joins Blackmon and Young in the double digits scoring column. Stratton contributes 10.3 ppg, while Brown averages 10.1. Stratton boasts a team and the league's second best assist/turnover ratio of 2.0. She also nails 49.0 percent of her shots from beyond the arc, hitting 25-of-51. She also ranks third in the league and among the NCAA elite in free throw percentage with 86.9 percent (73-of-84).

As a team, Baylor is averaging an impressive 77.3 points per game, while their opponents are only allowed to score 57.3 ppg. The Lady Bears are also outrebounding their opponents, 43.1 to 36.3.

OU had it's 58 straight weeks of being ranked among the nation's top 25 teams snapped Monday as the Sooners dropped out of the Associated Press top 25 poll for the first time since Oklahoma made it's initial appearance under current Sooner coach Sherri Coale (Jan. 17, 2000).

After shooting only 30-plus percent in its previous three games, the Sooners scorched the nets for a much improved 53.3 percent field goal shooting against Oklahoma State 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 against Fordham on Nov. 29.

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

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.

Against OSU, 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 60.1 percent (125-of-208) of her shots, ranking her sixth nationally.

For the year, the quartet of Villarroel, Jackson, Welch and Schuknecht accounts for 74.5 percent of the team's points. They have scored 1,106 of OU's 1,484 points.

WACO, Texas (AP) - Dionnah Jackson hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left to cap an Oklahoma comeback and give the No. 22 Sooners a 65-64 victory over Baylor on Sunday (Jan. 26).

Baylor led 63-62 when Chelsea Whitaker went to the line to shoot two free throws with 11 seconds left. She missed the second of the two shots, giving the Bears a 64-62 lead. Oklahoma, playing with three starters on the bench with five fouls, worked the ball downcourt to Jackson. Standing unguarded just beyond the arc, her shot bounced off the rim then fell straight through the net, giving the Sooners their only lead.

Steffanie Blackmon's desperation shot for Baylor at the buzzer sailed wide.

Laura Andrews paced Oklahoma with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Jackson added 18 points. Sophia Young led Baylor with 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Dionne Brown added 18 points.

The victory extended the Sooners' winning streak over Baylor to 10 games.

Baylor led 59-53 with just under five minutes remaining, but five straight points by Andrews set the stage for Oklahoma's comeback. Led by her 5-of-10 effort from 3-point range, the Sooners hit 10 of 26 3-point attempts in the game. Baylor connected on only 1 of 6.

Dionnah Jackson has become Oklahoma's floor general as a sophomore due to senior Caton Hill being sideline with a knee injury.

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 2.2, compare to a 1.2 assists/turnover ratio in non-conference action. Her 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. Her previous best was eight assists and one turnover in 23 minutes against Tulsa as a freshman.

Another area that Jackson has improved in is her free throw percentage. Over the past seven games, she has nailed 84.6 percent of her attempted shots at the foul line. And, in league play she's hitting 77.8 (21-of-27). In non-conference action, Jackson was only able to connect on 61.2 percent (41-of-67) of her free throws.

The 5-9 guard leads the team in rebounds with 6.6 boards per game (12th in the Big 12), in conference games, and ranks fifth the Big 12 in defensive boards with 5.44 per game. In addition, the St. Louis, Mo., native ranks second on the team in overall points (12.0 ppg) and third in Big 12 scoring (11.0 ppg). Jackson appears among the Big 12 top 25 in seven statistical categories in league play. (see page 5 for rankings)

After scoring a career-high 28 points in Oklahoma's 87-71 thrashing of Oklahoma State Sunday, 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 against the Cowgirls.

Last week, 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). She also had two assists, one steal and one blocked shot over the two-game span. 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 also had 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. Kansas State's Nicole Ohlde was selected this week's Big 12 player of the week, as voted upon by a media panel and released by the conference office announced Monday.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has come up with stellar performances against Big 12 opponents. The Plainview, Texas, native has scored at least 10 points against eight of the nine Big 12 teams, including a career-high 20 against Texas. She also dropped 17 at Nebraska and against Oklahoma State.

Welch has improved her point production to 13.6 points per game against conference opponents. She also averages 3.8 rebounds per game and increased her shooting percentages to 37.5 percent from the field, 32.5 percent from beyond the arc and 89.3 percent from the free throw line. The 5-9 guard ranks third in the league in free throw accuracy, ninth in three-point field goals made per game, 11th in scoring and 14th in three-point field goals percentage.

In non-conference play, she was contributing 9.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Welch also shot 35.7 percent from the field, 27.9 from the three-point line and 72.1 percent from the charity stripe before Big 12 play.

Oklahoma's 365 free throws scored from the free throw line tops the Big 12 Conference. OU has also appeared at the stripe a league-best 520 times. However, in league play the Sooners have only scored 132 points, second to Texas' 155. Oklahoma ranks fifth in the conference in free throw percentage, hitting 70.2 percent, and sixth in league play, shooting 71.7 percent from the stripe.

OU has appeared at the free throw line at least 20 times in 16 of 22 games this season.

The Sooners average 16.6 points from the foul line and appear at the stripe 23.6 time per game. In league play, OU scores 14.7 points from the foul line and attempts 20.4 shots from the stripe per contest.

OU has hit 80 percent 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.

Oklahoma freshmen Chelsi Welch, Laura Andrews, Antionette Wadsworth, Erin Higgins and Beky Preston rank among the Big 12 top 25 statistical leaders in eight categories.

Welch currently ranks among the Big 12 top rookies in six statistical areas. She's moved up to second in scoring (11.2 ppg), stayed at third in free throw percentage (78.9%), sixth in steals (1.36 spg), seventh in rebounding (3.9 rpg) ninth in assists (1.5 apg), and 13th in three-point field goal percentage (30.1%).

Andrews, who's improved her performances over the past few games, now ranks sixth in rebounding (4.2 rpg), 13th in free throw percentage (68.4%) and 18th in scoring (4.2 ppg) and 20th in assists (0.64 apg) per game.

Preston appears at No. 10 in blocked shots (0.45 bpg) and 12th in field goal percentage (48.2%) and 12th in rebounds (3.3 rpg).

Wadsworth ranks 20th in field goal percentage (40.7%) and 18th in rebounds (2.1 rpg).

Even though she only played three games Higgins racked up some impressive numbers to rank among the leagues top rookies in five areas. Higgins leads the league for best free throw percent (100%, 6-6), ranks second for best three-point field goal percentage (50%, 8-16), fourth in scoring (10.0 ppg), fifth in assists (2.3 apg) and seventh in steals (1.33 spg).

Sophomore Lauren Shoush has been the energy source for the women's basketball team. She's started the last five games for the Sooners but her intensity has sparked Sooner runs in the Texas A&M (Jan. 18) and Kansas (Jan. 22) games.

The Oklahoma City native scored a career-high 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field at Texas A&M (Feb. 5). She also had six rebounds and a team-best three assists while playing a career-high 32 minutes.

She first appeared in the lineup when she started the second half and played a then career-high 28 minutes against Kansas in Lawrence. Since becoming a starter, she's averaging 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds for the Sooners.

The Putnam City North High School graduate is averaging 4.8 points, 2.2 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game in Big 12 match ups. However, her contribution is more than just numbers, as she's always diving for loose balls, jumping into passing lanes and battling rebounds.

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 5,517 fans overall.

Topping the overall chart is Tennessee's 13,999, Connecticut's 13,571, and Texas Tech's 12,094 fans per game. Six Big 12 schools rank among the nation's top 25 in attendance.



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