March 21, 2003
GAME: No. 10 Oklahoma (19-12) vs. No. 7 George Washington (24-6).
REGIONAL: Mideast Regional, first round.
TIME: Sunday, 9:05 p.m. EST.
SITE: The Lloyd Noble Center; Norman, Okla.
Home-court advantage would be helpful to any team in the NCAA tournament. It's especially valuable to a 10 seed.
Oklahoma did not earn one of the tournament's higher seeds, but nevertheless the Sooners will be at the Lloyd Noble Center when they meet George Washington in a first-round game.
The NCAA selected regional sites before the season began, and Oklahoma got one in part because the Sooners played in front of full houses the previous two years.
However, the Sooners were highly ranked in each of those seasons. After graduating four starters from a team that lost in the NCAA title game last season, Oklahoma finished with 19 wins and was ousted in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament by Colorado.
Despite taking a step back this season, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale still thinks the Sooners can win a few tournament games.
"I think the ultimate goal for this team is if we could win our way beyond our home court," Coale said. "If we could get the experience of traveling and moving on to that Sweet 16 round, that would be a tremendous, tremendous season for this young team."
However, Coale also said getting past George Washington could be a challenge for a team that finished fifth in the Big 12 standings while starting two freshmen and a sophomore.
"We've got to get past George Washington first," she said. "We're not taking anything for granted. We've got to play very well to beat anybody."
George Washington enters the tournament on a roll, winning nine straight and 20 of 21.
In the Atlantic 10 championship game on March 10, 6-foot-4 center Ugo Oha had 26 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks in a 56-49 win over Rhode Island. It was George Washington's fist conference tournament title since 1996.
The winner of this game will play either Villanova or St. Francis, Pa., in the second round Tuesday.
Oklahoma - F Theresa Schuknecht, F Beky Preston, G Chelsi Welch, G Maria Villarroel, G Dionnah Jackson.
George Washington - F Cathy Joens, F Anna Montanana, C Oha, G Marsheik Witherspoon, G Lindsey Davidson.
Oklahoma - Villarroel, 14.6 ppg; Schuknecht, 6.7 rpg; Jackson, 5.1 apg.
George Washington - Joens, 17.3 ppg; Oha, 6.6 rpg; Witherspoon, 3.8 apg.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Oklahoma - At-large berth, Big 12 Conference.
George Washington - Automatic bid, Atlantic 10 Conference tournament champion.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD:
Oklahoma - 11-5, 5 years.
George Washington - 11-9, 9 years.