OU Women's Basketball Set to Compete in Hawaii Tournament

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 29, 2002

Nov. 29, 2002

Norman, Okla. -- - Tournament: Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic
Date: Friday-Sunday, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2002
First Opponent: Fordham (2-0)
Site: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300)
Television: none
Radio: KOMA (1520 AM)

Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic Tidbits

Quickly:The 23rd-ranked Oklahoma women's basketball team (3-1) heads to Honolulu, Hawaii to participate in the three-day eight team Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic on Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2002. The event will be hosted by the University of Hawai'i at the Stan Sheriff Center (10,300).

Oklahoma's bracket consist of DePaul (1-1), North Carolina (2-0) and Fordham (2-0), while the other side holds Gonzaga (0-2), Denver (2-0), host Hawaii (2-0) and the defending national champions Connecticut (2-0).

DePaul and North Carolina tips off the classic at 12:30 p.m. HT, followed by OU and Fordham at 2:40 p.m. Host Hawai'i and Gonzaga will face off at 4:50 p.m. while and Denver and UConn will conclude the first day of action at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29. See page 2 for complete bracket.

TV: None

Radio: All of OU's games will be broadcast live on KOMA (1520-AM) and on the Internet at www.soonersports.com. Brian Brinkley will provide the play-by-play and Tara DeGiusti will be the color analyst for the women's basketball radio network.

Rankings: Oklahoma - No. 23 AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls

Series Records: Oklahoma will face Fordham and DePaul for the first time in program history. OU and North Carolina has played twice with each winning a game.

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 115-74. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

Jim Lewis (West Virginia, 1968) is in his third year as the head coach for Fordham. Lewis has guided the Rams to a two-year record of 11-46. He also was the head coach of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, the same team former Sooner great Stacey Dales-Schuman plays for, in 1997-98.

The Sooners enter the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Rainbow Classic with a smaller roster than what they started the week with. OU lost senior Caton Hill and freshman Erin Higgins to season ending ACL injuries Tuesday against Sam Houston State. Hill's injury occured during the game, while Higgins' experienced her second ACL injury in six months during OU's shoot around earlier that day.

However, the Sooners were able to hand Sam Houston a 79-52 loss to boast OU's overall record to 3-1. Oklahoma also defeated Tulsa and ORU to take the Bertha Teague Classic title last weekend. The Sooners suffered their only lost of the year to then No. 2 Tennessee in Knoxville on Nov. 10.

Pacing OU on the offensive end is senior Theresa Schuknecht and junior transfer Maria Villarroel who's averaging 13.5 points each. Sophomore point guard Dionnah Jackson tops the team in rebounds (6.3) and assists (4.8) per game.

As a team, Oklahoma is shooting 40.9 percent from the field (92-of-225) and 66.4 percent from the foul line (81-of-122). OU also averages 70.5 points to its opponents' 62.2 points per game.

Fordham, member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, enters the tournament with a 2-0 record. The Rams won at Brown, 78-63, and beat Morgan State, 89-35, at home. In its two games, Fordham is averaging an impressive 83.5 points and 57.0 rebounds per game. They are also a solid free throw shooting team, hitting 88.9 percent from the foul line.

Three Rams are averaging double digits lead by senior forward Mobolaji Akiode's 18.0 points per game. Beth Ann Dickinson (16.5 ppg) and Kyshawn Ruff (12.0 ppg) also averages 10-plus points per outing. Kyshawn is the team's leader on the boards with 11.0 rebounds per game. Fordham finished 6-23 a year ago and placed sixth in the conference with a 3-13 mark. Head Coach Jim Lewis returns 10 letterwinners and all five starters from that team.

Three of the eight teams participating in the Rainbow Wahine Classic this week are ranked among the nation's top 25 programs. Topping the charts are the Connecticut Huskies at No. 5 in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches and AP polls, while North Carolina is considered the 15th (ESPN/USA Today) and 11th (AP) best team in the country. Oklahoma rounds out the top 25 programs, ranking 23rd in each poll.

Oklahoma and Sam Houston State share one common opponent, Stephen F. Austin. OU will host the Lumberjacks on Dec. 5, while SHSU will face SFA twice as members of the Southland Conference.

Oklahoma was successfull when playing on a netural court last season. OU went 11-1 with its only loss occuring in the national championship game against Connecticut in San Antonio, Texas.

The Sooners are 15-4 when playing on a neutral court over the past three years.

The Lloyd Noble Center has become a safe haven for the Sooners as they sport an impressive 40-3 record (.930 winning percentage) inside the building over the last three seasons. Last year, OU produced a perfect 14-0 home record and is currently on a 24-game home winning streak. The Sooners have not lost a game inside the facility since Iowa State handed the Sooners an 81-79 buzzer beater defeat on Jan. 6, 2001.

OU's current winning streak ranks second best among active NCAA marks. The school record is 26 consecutive home victories (Feb. 18, 1984 to Feb. 22, 1986).

Sooner Coach Sherri Coale is 56-21 at home (.727 winning percentage), while the program is 195-76 (.720 winning percentage) overall.



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