Oklahoma Hosts No. 7 Texas Tech In Its First Big 12 Home Game

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 14, 2003

Jan. 14, 2003

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Quickly: Oklahoma (10-4, 1-0 Big 12) will host seventh-ranked Texas Tech (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) on Wednesday, Jan. 15, inside the Lloyd Noble Center at 7 p.m.

Oklahoma won its Big 12 opener at Nebraska (57-43), while Texas Tech sports a 13-game winning streak heading into Wednesday's contest. The Lady Raiders have not loss since dropping a 85-76 decision to Louisiana Tech on Nov. 10, in Knoxville, Tenn. OU and Tech has competed in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic for the last two years.

TV: The Texas Tech Lady Raiders Television Network will broadcast the game back to Lubbock and Amarillo.

Radio: Wednesday's game is the second of 10 broadcast that will air on the Sooner Sports Network. An additional 15 stations will be carrying the OU-Texas Tech game. A list of stations can be found on page four of this release. As usual, all of the women's basketball games are broadcast live on KOMA (1520-AM) and on the Internet at www.soonersports.com. Brian Brinkley and Tara DeGiusti will action the game for the Sooners.

Rankings: Texas Tech is ranked seventh and Oklahoma is ranked 23rd in the Associated Press poll.

Series Records: Texas Tech leads the all-time series, 17-8, but has lost six of its last seven games to the Sooners, including a 72-62 elimination from the 2002 NCAA West Regional in Boise. Oklahoma has not lost to the Lady Raiders since Feb. 19, 2000, in Lubbock (86-81).

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 123-77. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

Marsha Sharp (Wayland Baptist, 1974) is in her 21st year at the helm of the Texas Tech women's basketball program. She sports an overall record of 476-149 and ranks seventh among winningest active coaches in Division I. She has led the Lady Raiders to 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 13 consecutive, and nine NCAA Sweet 16 and three Elite Eight appearances. Texas Tech won the national championship in 1993, earning Sharp National Coach of the Year honors in 1993 and 1994. Sharp and the Lady Raiders have won three Big 12 regular season titles (1998-2000) and two tournament crowns (1998, 1999).

Upcoming Opponent: Oklahoma will host Texas A&M (8-5, 1-1 Big 12) on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. inside the Lloyd Noble Center.

Sooner fans can be admitted for $5 to Saturday's game if they present a $3 discounted coupon, off of a $8 general admission ticket, from any Norman, Moore and Purcell Carl's Jr. In addition, 500 poms will be distributed at the game.

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. Hill is one of four OU players out for the season with knee injuries, including freshman Casey Walker and Erin Higgins, and most recently, senior Stephanie Simon, who was lost for the year in practice on Jan. 7.

Despite the new look, Oklahoma continued its success during a rugged non-conference schedule. Three of OU's four losses came against top 10 teams, with setbacks to No. 2 Tennessee (94-68), No. 5 Connecticut (73-60) and No. 6 Stanford (58-38) along with a narrow loss to SMU (71-68). OU also owns a 66-63 victory over No. 12 North Carolina on Nov. 30.

Junior guard Maria Villarroel, a transfer from Northeast Oklahoma A&M, leads the Sooners with 16.9 points per game and a 62.1 field goal percentage, which ranks sixth nationally. She also averages 4.2 rebounds per game.

Sophomore Dionnah Jackson joins Villarroel in double figures with 12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and a team-high 4.4 assists per game.

Inside, senior center Theresa Schuknecht, a transfer from Arizona State, has added 12.0 points and a team-leading 7.9 rebounds per contest.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has also started every game for the Sooners, averaging 10.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Freshman forward Laura Andrews (3.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg) claimed the fifth starting spot with the loss of Simon and Hill.

The Sooners are averaging 68.8 points per game on offense, while allowing 61.5 points per game defensively for an average scoring margin of +4.6 points per game. Last season, OU owned an average scoring margin of +16.3 points per game (78.2-61.9).

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 29.2 percent (54-185) from three-point range, compared to their 36.4 percent (211-580) success rate from long range last season.

A Look At Texas Tech
Texas Tech is probably one of the hottest teams in the country right now. Since losing its season opener at the State Farm Tip-Off Classic to Louisiana Tech, 85-76, in Knoxville, Tenn., on Nov. 10, the Lady Raiders have role through their schedule winning 13-straight games.

TTU is 13-1 on the season and has defeated Texas A&M and Baylor in Big 12 play.

The Lady Raiders are an extremely well balanced team as they have 10 of 12 players averaging 10-plus minutes a game. The starters average better than 25 minutes an outing. Offensively, three players contributes more than 10 points a game, while defensively five averages at least four rebounds a contest.

Senior forward/center Plenette Pierson, who rejoined the program after missing last season, tops the team with 17.9 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. She is also hitting 50.2 percent from the field and has 24 steals and 24 blocked shots to her credit this season. Junior guard Jia Perkins has moved over to the shooting guard position with the addition of freshman guard Erin Grant. Perkins ranks second on the team with 16.4 points and 2.9 assists per game. She also ranks third in rebounds with 5.6 caroms a game.

Grant is one of the nation's top playmaker as she currently ranks fourth in the NCAA and tops the Big 12 Conference with 7.7 assists per game.

With an added 20 pounds, sophomore center Cisti Greenwalt has become more effective the TTU. Greenwalt averages an impressive 3.4 blocks and 10.3 points per game. She also grabs 6.4 rebounds a contest.

Only two players on the TTU roster have attempted more than five three pointers this season, juniors Natalie Ritchie (25-of-66, 37.9%) and Miklannet Tennal (9-of-22, 40.9%).

As a team, TTU averages 78.8 points, while their opponents only score 59.6 points per game. The Lady Raiders also sport a +8.4 edge on the boards, pulling down 44.7 rebounds to 36.4 boards by their challengers. Another impressive stats for TTU is that it averages 7.7 blocks per game.

OU's Streak In The Big 12
Oklahoma has not lost a Big 12 Conference home since dropping a buzzer beater to Iowa State (71-69) on Jan. 6, 2001. The Sooners have won 15-straight home Big 12 match ups.

OU Against Ranked Opponents
Oklahoma has produced a 1-3 record against teams ranked in the top 25 and a 0-3 mark against teams in the top 10 this season.

Three of OU's four losses came against top 10 teams, with setbacks to No. 2 Tennessee (94-68), No. 5 Connecticut (73-60) and No. 6 Stanford (58-38) along with a narrow loss to SMU (71-68). OU also owns a 66-63 victory over No. 12 North Carolina.

RPI Rankings
Oklahoma is currently ranked eighth in the Women's RPI and the WBCA/Summerville RPI polls and 20th in Jeff Sagarin RPI poll.

Welch Goes Head To Head With Grant of TTU
Freshman guards Chelsi Welch, of Oklahoma, and Erin Grant, of Texas Tech, will extend their competitive streak against each other Wednesday night. The pair of Texas natives have watch the other play while in high school. As high school seniors, Welch and Grant were considered two of the top players coming out of the state of Texas.

Welch was named to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American team and selected as the Texas Athletic Basketball Coaches 4A Player of the Year as a senior. The Plainview, Texas native was also named co-Texas Player of the Year by the Lubbock Avalanche Journal and was an Amarillo Globe News Super Team pick. She averaged 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 steals per game as a senior.

Grant, who competed in 5A basketball, was a first team Street & Smith, McDonald's, WBCA, USA Today and Parade All-American last season. She averaged 12.3 points, 7.4 assists and 4.3 steals per game as a high school senior. She also was an AAU All-American and tabbed as Texas Girls Coaches Association Miss Basketball.

Villarroel And Schuknecht Still Ranks Among NCAA Best
For the second straight NCAA rankings, Oklahoma's Maria Villarroel and Theresa Schuknecht still ranks among the nation best in field goal and free throw percentages. Villarroel, a 5-9 guard, currently ranks sixth with a 62.1 field goal percentage, hitting 90-of-145 shots. Schuknecht, a 6-3 center, has connected on 56-of-64 free throws for a 87.5 accuracy at the stripe, 25th best in the NCAA.

Preston Continues To Improve
Freshman Beky Preston has played big in big games for the Sooners. The 6-3 center most recently was OU's bright spot against Stanford. Preston pulled down six rebounds, three offensive and three defensive, and scored six points in 18 minutes of play. The New Mexico native, who hit three of four shots, hustled and competed every minute she was on the court.

Preston enters the Texas Tech game with game averages of 3.1 rebounds and 3.2 points per game in 10.4 minutes a contest. She has seen action in 12 of 14 games and shot 53.3 percent from the field (16-30).

Sooners Among Big 12 Leaders
Junior Maria Villarroel has led the Big 12 Conference in field goal percentage the entire season. She has made 90 of her 145 attempted shots for an impressive 62.1 field goal accuracy. The 5-8 guard also ranks seventh in the conference in scoring with 16.9 ppg.

Senior Theresa Schuknecht continues to rank among the league's best four categories. She moved up one spot in three of the four categories this week. Schuknecht now ranks fourth in free throw percentage, hitting 89.7 percent of her shots (56-of-64), fourth in offensive rebounds (3.64) and 10th in total rebounds (7.9 rpg). The 6-3 center remained at 21st in points per game (12.0 ppg).

Sophomore Dionnah Jackson also ranks among the top players in four areas. She's sixth in steals (2.36 spg), ninth in assists (4.43 apg), moved up to 14th in assists/turnover ratio (1.1) and stays at 19th in scoring (12.4 ppg).

Closing In On 500th Win In Program History
Oklahoma is three victories shy of its 500th win in program history. Current and previous Sooner teams have established an overall record of 447-371 in 28 years (.546 winning percentage).

Head Coach Sherri Coale has been responsible for 123 of those victories. Coale is 19 wins shy of tying OU's all-time winningest coach Maura McHugh's 142 victory mark.

Dandy Performance By Shoush
Sophomore Lauren Shoush has been one of the most energized and improving players on the floor the past three weeks. She had a career-high eight assists and only two turnovers in the Sooners 87-59 victory over Southeast Missouri State (Dec. 28). She had five of those eight assists in the first 20-minutes of play. Her previous best in this category was two. She also played a season-high 17 minutes.

At Nebraska, Shoush hustled for a personal-best four defensive rebounds and had one assist and one steals in 12 minutes of action.

"Lauren Shoush is probably the most pleasant surprise over the last three weeks, playing with a greater level of confidence," said OU Head Coach Sherri Coale. "She is capable of doing the things we need her to do."

Jackson Hot At The Arc
Sophomore Dionnah Jackson most improved area this season has been from the arc where she's hitting 50.0 percent for the season. She has hit 10-of-20 treys, compare to only attempting 13 three-pointers last year. As a freshman, she shot 46.2 percent from the arc (6-of-13).

20-Point Club
Oklahoma has had three different players to score 20-or-more points in nine different games. Junior Maria Villarroel tops the team in this category with four 20-plus point performances. Senior Theresa Schuknecht has had three games where she's score better than 20 points and sophomore Dionnah Jackson has performed this task twice.

Villarroel is the only Sooner to have netted 30-or-more points in a single game. She's done it twice (30 vs. Fordham and 31 vs. Sam Houston State).

Double Trouble
Senior Theresa Schuknecht and sophomore Dionnah Jackson are the only two active players to have produced a double double this year. Schuknecht has done it twice, while Jackson performance this trick for the first time against Wichita State (Dec. 9) with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Schuknecht had a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds in her first game in a Sooner uniform at Tennessee (Nov. 10). She nearly repeated her numbers with 20 points and 12 rebounds against Stephen F. Austin (Dec. 5) for her second double-double.

Caton Hill had three double doubles to open the season before being sidelined.

Sooners Make Them Count In The Last Two Minutes
Oklahoma sports a solid 69.2 free throw percentage in the final two minutes of the game. The Sooners have hit 36-of-52 attempted free throws down the stretch.

Sooners Suffer Fourth Knee Injury
Oklahoma lost another member of its squad on Jan. 7, when senior Stephanie Simon (Clinton, Okla.) went down with a knee injury. This is OU's fourth knee injury of the season, trimming the Sooners down to just 10 players on the roster.

During the summer the Sooners lost incoming freshman Casey Walker (Houston, Texas), followed by senior All-American candidate Caton Hill (Ada, Okla.) and freshman standout Erin Higgins (Oklahoma City, Okla.) to ACL injuries. Hill's and Higgins' injuries occurred on Nov. 26, a day known as "Black Tuesday" within the basketball program. Walkers' injury happened on July 23, during an AAU playoff game.



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