Oklahoma Set To Take On Nationally-Ranked Texas Tech

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 17, 2003

Feb. 17, 2003

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Quickly: Oklahoma (15-9, 6-5 Big 12) has five Big 12 regular season games remaining on its schedule. OU travels to Lubbock, Texas, Wednesday to face No. 7/8 Texas Tech (20-3, 9-2 Big 12) inside the United Spirit Arena, before returning to the Lloyd Noble Center to host its final two regular season home games of the 2002-03 campaign.

Texas Tech enters Wednesday's game with a perfect 11-0 home record this season and has won 17-straight. TTU has not lost a game inside the United Spirit Arena since Feb. 3, 2002 (Colorado, 74-69 OT). OU is 6-4 when playing on the opponent's home court this year.

Both teams are coming off of road losses. Texas Tech was upset in overtime by Baylor, 86-72, in Waco, while the Sooners lost to Colorado, 61-57, in Boulder.

Since the last meeting, both programs have changed its starting centers. OU now has freshman Beky Preston in the lineup, replacing senior Theresa Schuknecht. Texas Tech has replaced sophomore center Cisti Greenwalt with junior Jolee Ayers. Preston and Greenwalt were former high school rivals in New Mexico. Preston is a native of Albuquerque, while Greenwalt is from Clovis, N.M.

Oklahoma's freshman Chelsi Welch returns home Wednesday as the Plainview, Texas, native expects several family members and friends to be in attendance.

TV: Both Texas Tech and Oklahoma will air Wednesday's game in its local markets. Brian Brinkley (play-by-play) and Stacey Dales-Schuman (color analyst) will call the action for the Sooner Sports Network. The following stations will carry the game for Oklahoma: KSBI-TV in Oklahoma City (Ch. 9), Cox Cable in Tulsa (Ch. 78), KOMI 24 in Woodward, Lawton Cable 84 and Cable One (Ch. 20) in Ardmore.

Radio: Sooner fans can listen to James Hale (play-by-play) and Tara DeGiusti (color analyst) broadcast the game on KOMA (1520-AM) and the Internet at www.soonersports.com

Series Records: Texas Tech leads the all-time series, 18-8, and owns a 10-2 advantage when hosting the Sooners in Lubbock. The last time OU lost in Lubbock was when Tech came away with an 86-81 win in 2000.

The Lady Raiders snapped a five-game losing streak to OU earlier this season in Norman, 80-71. Prior to the Jan. 15 meeting, the last time these two teams met Oklahoma won its first NCAA Sweet 16 game with a 72-62 victory in the West Regional in Boise, Idaho.

Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale is 6-8 against Texas Tech.

Rankings: Oklahoma is not ranked. Texas Tech ranks No. 7/8 in the Associated Press and the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches polls, respectively.

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 128-82. (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 499-156 and ranks seventh among winningest active coaches in Division I. Sharp will be going for her 500th career victory against the Sooners Wednesday night.

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 Opponents: Oklahoma will close out its 2002-03 regular season home schedule with Iowa State and Missouri in its next two games.

Iowa State travels to Norman on Sat., Feb. 22, while Missouri come to the Lloyd Noble Center on Wed., Feb. 26.


Oklahoma                           PPGRPG
14  CBeky Preston (6-3, Fr.)        3.53.3
35  GDionnah Jackson (5-9, So.)11.26.5
12  GLauren Shoush (5-11, So.)3.32.6
05  GMaria Villarroel (5-8, Jr.)15.34.7
00  GChelsi Welch (5-9, Fr)        11.83.8

Texas Tech PPGRPG 54 FPlenette Pierson (6-2, Sr.)18.27.3 33 FJolee Ayers (6-2, Jr.) 3.94.3 14 GErin Grant (5-8, Fr.) 6.73.5 15 GJia Perkins (5-8, Jr.) 16.35.4 23 GNatalie Ritchie (5-9, Jr.)9.12.5

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 has returned as the Sooners are averaging 74.0 points per game and shooting a sound 46.2 percent from the field, 32.8 percent from the arc and 72.9 percent from the foul line in their last three outings. OU's defense has also picked up, allowing opponents only 65.3 ppg and 35.3 rpg. OU has been grabbing 40.7 boards a contest.

OU has become more of an all-around team as three players average better than 10 points and four rebounds per game in conference play.

Maria Villarroel, a transfer from Northeast Oklahoma A&M, continues to lead the Sooners with 15.3 points per game and tops the Big 12 Conference with a 60.2 field goal percentage. She also averages 4.7 rebounds per game and has a team-high 15 blocks. Villarroel has played in all 24 games, starting 22.

Starting all 24 games this season has been sophomore Dionnah Jackson. Jackson's offensive production has been down a bit but her defensive skills have improved as she is currently tied for first on the team for most rebounds per game with 6.5. She also leads the team in assists, 4.9, and steals, 2.2, per game and ranks fourth in scoring with 11.2 ppg. Jackson boast a Big 12 best 2.4 assists/turnover ratio against league teams.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has also started every game for the Sooners, averaging 11.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Over the last three games, Welch has been the team leader in scoring with 17.7 ppg. The 5-9 guard has also shot 45.9 percent from the field (17-of-37), 40.9 percent from the arc (9-of-22) and 90.9 percent from the free throw line (10-of-11).

Also appearing in the starting for Oklahoma for the last seven games have 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 three outing she has averaged 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, including grabbing a career-high eight rebounds against Colorado Sunday. Even though her numbers only reflect 3.3 ppg and 2.6 rpg, for the year, her presence means a lot more than just numbers.

Preston, a 6-3 center, has had six blocked shots and has been contributing 4.0 rpg, 4.9 ppg and shooting 57.1 percent from the field since becoming a starter. However, she's only connected on 20.0 percent (2-of-10) of her attempted free throws during this time span.

Another presence inside for the Sooners is senior Theresa Schuknecht. Schuknecht, a transfer from Arizona State, has shown glimpses of great potential but hasn't been consistent for a lengthy period of time. Over the last three games, she's contributed 17.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg. She has connected on 55.9 percent from the field (19-of-34) and 76.5 percent from the foul line (13-of-17). She's been coming off the bench for the last seven games.

Appearing in the starting lineup nine times has been freshman forward Laura Andrews. Andrews came up huge for the Sooners against Baylor in Waco with career highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds. For the season, she's averaging 4.6 points and 4.3 rebounds but in league play she has started to blossom with 6.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg.

As a team, Oklahoma is averaging 67.5 points per game on offense, while allowing 62.2 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 28.79 percent (99-of-345) from three-point range.

Texas Tech heads into Wednesday's game looking to give Head Coach Marsha Sharp her 500th career victory. The Lady Raiders failed on their first attempt as Baylor defeated TTU, 86-72, in overtime in Waco.

Tech currently stands in third place in the Big 12 Conference with a league record of 9-2 (losses to Texas and BU) and overall mark of 20-3.

The Lady Raiders are also putting a 17-game home winning streak on the line Wednesday. The streak ranks ninth-best in the nation. TTU has not lost a game inside the United Spirit Arena since Feb. 3, 2002 (Colorado, 74-69 OT).

Tech has gone 6-2 while OU has produced a 5-4 record since the two teams last met on Jan. 15 in Norman.

The Lady Raiders are an extremely well balanced team as they have 10 of 12 players averaging 10-plus minutes a game. Offensively, two players contributes more than 15 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 18.2 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. She is also hitting 52.1 percent from the field and has 33 steals and 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 16.3 points and 3.0 assists per game. She also tied for second in rebounds with 5.4 caroms a game.

Grant is one of the nation's top playmaker as she currently ranks 10th in the NCAA and tops the Big 12 Conference with 7.0 assists per game.

The starting center position has been shared by sophomore Cisti Greenwalt and junior Jolee Ayers. Greenwalt has played in all 23 games and started 17, while Ayers has seen action in 22 games, starting five. Greenwalt averages 2.8 blocks, 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Ayers contributes 3.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Both shoot over 50 from the field.

As a team, TTU averages 78.7 points, while their opponents only score 59.0 points per game. The Lady Raiders also sport a +7.3 edge on the boards, pulling down 43.3 rebounds to 36.0. Another impressive stats for TTU is that it averages 7.1 blocks per game.

Dionnah Jackson is the only guard in the Big 12 Conference that ranks among the league's top 20 in rebounds per game. Jackson averages 6.5 boards per contest for 14th best in the league

In conference games only, she has increased that average to 7.5 rebounds per game for ninth best. Jackson's small 5-9 frame finds its way to the paint on the defensive end as she grabs the second most defensive boards per game at 6.36.

Over the last three games, sophomore Dionnah Jackson has earned an amazing 3.1 assists/turnover ratio in 35.3 minutes of play.

Jackson had nine assists against Oklahoma State and Baylor to just three and one turnovers, respectively. Even though she only scored 6.5 points per game in these two outings, she averaged team highs of 8.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists.

The 5-9 guard established personal bests of 13 total rebounds and 11 defensive boards against Colorado Sunday.

Jackson's career high in assists is 10, dished out against Texas (Jan. 29, 2003). She played 38 minutes against the Longhorns without committing a turnover.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has come up with stellar performances against Big 12 opponents. The Plainview, Texas, native has scored at least 10 points in 10 of 11 Big 12 games, including a career-high 20 against Texas. She also dropped 18 at Colorado Sunday and scored 18 vs. Baylor and 17 against Oklahoma State and at Nebraska.

Welch has improved her point production to a team-best 14.4 points per game against conference opponents. She also averages 3.6 rebounds per game and increased her shooting percentages to 38.1 percent from the field, 34.5 percent from beyond the arc and 91.4 percent from the free throw line. The 5-9 guard ranks first in the league in free throw accuracy, fifth in three-point field goals made per game (1.8) and 10th in scoring.

Against other freshmen in the league, Welch currently ranks second in scoring (11.8 ppg), third in free throw percentage (80.8%), seventh in steals (1.3 spg), eighth in rebounds (3.8 rpg), ninth in three-point field goal percentage (31.7%) and 10th in assists (1.5 apg).

Point guard Dionnah 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 2.4, compared to a 1.2 assists/turnover ratio in non-conference action.

The St. Louis, Mo., native 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. Ranking a close second is her performance of nine assists to one turnover in 36 minutes of court time against Baylor. Prior to this season, Jackson's best was eight assists to one turnover in 23 minutes against Tulsa.

One of the biggest improvements in Dionnah Jackson game since the beginning of the season has been her production at the free throw line. Over the past nine games, she has nailed 84.6 percent (11-of-13) of her attempted shots at the charity stripe. In non-conference action, Jackson was only able to connect on 61.2 percent (41-of-67) of her free throws.

Oklahoma's 390 free throws scored from the charity stripe tops the Big 12 Conference. OU is one of only three teams that has attempted more than 500 free throws this year (557).

In league play, the Sooners have only scored 157 points, third to Texas' 182 and Baylor's 160. Oklahoma ranks sixth in overall games (70.0%) and in league games (71.0%) for best free throw percentages.

OU has appeared at the free throw line at least 20 times in 17 of 24 games and has hit 80 percent or better 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.

Freshman Beky Preston has started the last seven games for Oklahoma. The Albuquerque, N.M., native is a consistent contributor to OU's offensive and defensive systems. Most recently, she held Colorado's 6-5 center, Tera Bjorklund, to just 10 points, while scoring eight points of her own, hitting all four attempted shots. She played just 12 minutes against the Buffs due to foul trouble.

The 6-3 center was also 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. She canned three of four shots from the field and provided a spark on the defensive side of the basketball.

Preston enters the Texas Tech game with overall averages of 3.3 rebounds and 3.5 points per game in 12.8 minutes a contest. She also sports an overall field goal percentage of 50.8 percent, hitting 33-of-65 shots. Preston has played in 22 of 24 games this season.

Oklahoma has five players that has scored 20-or-more points in 16 different games this season. Junior Maria Villarroel tops the team in this category with eight 20-plus point performances. Senior Theresa Schuknecht has had four games where she's score better than 20 points and sophomore Dionnah Jackson has performed this task twice. Freshmen guards Laura Andrews and Chelsi Welch each scored career highs of 21 vs. Baylor and 20 against Texas, respectively.

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).

Oklahoma sports a solid 72.6 free throw percentage in the final two minutes of the game. The Sooners have hit 53-of-73 attempted free throws down the stretch.

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 (11.8 ppg), stayed at third in free throw percentage (80.8%), seventh in steals (1.3 spg), eighth in rebounds (3.8 rpg), ninth in three-point field goal percentage (31.7%) and 10th in assists (1.5 apg).

Andrews, who's improved her performances over the past few games, now ranks sixth in rebounding (4.3 rpg), 13th in free throw percentage (69.6%) and 16th in scoring (4.6 ppg) and 19th in assists (0.71 apg) per game.

Preston appears at No. 9 in blocked shots (0.45 bpg) and field goal percentage (50.8%) and 12th in rebounds (3.3 rpg).

Wadsworth ranks 19th in field goal percentage (40.7%) and 20th in rebounds (1.9 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 percentage (100%, 6-6), ranks second for best three-point field goal percentage (50%, 8-16), fifth in scoring (10.0 ppg), fifth in assists (2.3 apg) and sixth in steals (1.33 spg).

Not only has sophomore Lauren Shoush established career highs in all 14 statistical categories, but she has been a much needed energy source for the team this season.

After coming off of the bench for the first 18 games, Shoush first appeared among the top five when she started the second half and played a then career-high 28 minutes against Kansas in Lawrence (Jan. 22).

Since becoming a starter, she's averaging 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Sooners, compare to just 1.3 rpg and 1.6 ppg before the Kansas game.

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 a then career-high six rebounds and a team-best three assists while playing a career-high 32 minutes. Since then, Shoush has produced a career-high eight rebounds against Colorado Sunday.

The Putnam City North High School graduate is averaging 4.7 points, 2.2 assists and 3.8 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 5,398 fans overall.

Topping the overall chart is Tennessee's 13,733, Connecticut's 13,509, and Texas Tech's 12,111 fans per game. Six Big 12 schools rank among the nation's top 25 in attendance.



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