Oklahoma Women's Basketball Set For Bedlam Sunday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 08, 2003

Feb. 8, 2003

Norman, Okla. -
Quickly: Both Oklahoma (13-8, 4-4 Big 12) and Oklahoma State (5-14, 1-7 Big 12) will be looking to snap out of its current losing streaks. The Sooners have lost three in a row, while the Cowgirls have dropped their last five games in league play.

Sunday's game features two teams trying to have their own identity and survive growing pains along the way. Both programs have completely new looks from a year ago. OU has five new starters (three freshmen and two sophomores), while the Cowgirls have a new head coach.

Kansas State, Texas Tech and Texas leads the league with 7-1 records, followed by Colorado's 6-3 performance. Baylor, OU, Missouri and Iowa State each have 4-4 marks against Big 12 teams. OSU in tied with Nebraska for last place in the conference with a 1-7 record.

TV: Brian Brinkley (play-by-play) and Jenny Bramer (color analyst) will call the action for the Sooner Sports Network Sunday. The following stations will carry the game: 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: Sunday'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 James Hale and color analyst Tara DeGiusti. A list of Sooner Sports Network stations can be found on page four of this release.

Series Records: Oklahoma took the lead in the all-time Bedlam series, 35-34, last year. The Sooners have won seven straight and nine of their last 10 games against the Cowgirls. OU owns a victory margin of 16.3 points in this time span. The Sooners eliminated Oklahoma State from the 2002 Big 12 Tournament with a 31-point victory in Kansas City, 87-56.

Rankings: Oklahoma is ranked 24th in the Associated Press and 21st in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches polls. Oklahoma State is not ranked.

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 126-81. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

First-year coach Julie Goodenough (Texas-Arlington, 1991) is at the ground breaking level of rebuilding the Oklahoma State women's basketball program. Goodenough spent nine years at Hardin-Simmons University where she oversaw the school's transition from NAIA to the NCAA Division III level. She guided the Cowgirls to four straight NCAA Sweet 16 Tournament appearances, including the Elite Eight in 2000. She left Hardin Simmons as the all-time winningest coach and a five-time coach of the year honoree. Goodenough was hired on April 10, 2002 at OSU.

Upcoming Opponent: Oklahoma will host Baylor (15-5, 4-4 Big 12) on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. inside the Lloyd Noble Center.

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.


Oklahoma                           PPGRPG
33  FLaura Andrews (6-0, Fr.)4.14.1
14  CBeky Preston (6-3, Fr.)        3.03.2
12  GLauren Shoush (5-11, So.)2.11.7
35  GDionnah Jackson (5-9, So.)12.06.1
 0  GChelsi Welch (5-9, Fr.)        11.03.9

Oklahoma State PPGRPG 55 CTrisha Skibbe (6-2, Jr.)16.07.1 32 FChantoya Hawkins (5-5, Sr.)6.23.0 11 GMeghan Craig (5-10, Fr.)8.43.2 02 GLori Allen (5-10, Fr.) 6.23.9 03 GShelby Hutchens (5-10, Sr.)5.82.8

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 went down in the first 40 seconds of the play against Sam Houston State. She is one of four OU players out for the year with knee injuries, other include freshman Casey Walker and Erin Higgins and senior Stephanie Simon.

Even though Oklahoma has been short on its offensive production, only scoring 56.2 ppg and shooting 35.0 percent from the field, the Sooners have been strong on the defensive end, averaging nearly 40 rebounds a game over the last four games.

For the year, OU has four players averaging better than 10 points and four rebounds per game. Recently, Head Coach Sherri Coale shuffled her lineup up for the fifth time this season and currently has three freshmen and two sophomores starting.

Junior guard Maria Villarroel, a transfer from Northeast Oklahoma A&M, leads the Sooners with 15.5 points per game and a 61.1 field goal percentage, which ranks sixth best in the NCAA and first in the Big 12 Conference. She also averages 4.4 rebounds per game and shots 31.6 percent from the arc. However, Villarroel has been coming off the bench for the Sooners for the last two games.

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 6.1 rebounds, second best on the club, and owns team highs of 4.6 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Jackson's 2.1 assists/turnover ratio in Big 12 play ranks second best in the conference.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has also started every game for the Sooners, averaging 11.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Over the last four games, Welch has been the team leader in scoring with 14.3 ppg. Plus, she's averaged 4.5 rebounds per contest and shot 92.9 percent from the free throw line against Texas A&M, Kansas State, Texas and Baylor.

Inside, senior center Theresa Schuknecht, a transfer from Arizona State, has added 11.0 points and a team-leading 6.5 rebounds per contest, but her conference numbers only reflect 8.9 ppg and 4.3 rpg. She too has been coming off the bench as of late.

Starting for OU in nine of the last 11 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 4.1 points and 4.1 rebounds but in league play she has started to blossom with 5.4 ppg and 5.8 rpg.

Also starting for Oklahoma in the last four games 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. Even though her numbers only reflect 2.8 ppg and 2.0 rpg her presence means a lot more than just numbers. In Shoush's last outing she scored a career-high 12 points on five of 10 shooting against Texas A&M. She also had six rebounds and a team-high three assists.

Preston has averaged 19.0 minutes per game since becoming a starter. The 6-3 center has had five blocked shots and has been contributing 5.3 rpg, 4.5 ppg and shooting 57.1 percent from the field. However, she only connected on 22.2 percent of her attempted free throws during this time span.

As a team, Oklahoma is averaging 66.5 points per game on offense, while allowing 61.7 points per game defensively for an average scoring margin of +4.8 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 27.9 percent (80-287) from three-point range.

The Oklahoma State Cowgirls head into Sunday's game trying to snap a five-game losing skid after a 24-point loss at Iowa State on Feb. 5. The Cowgirls are 1-7 in Big 12 play.

Oklahoma State owns the worst overall record in the Big 12 Conference at 5-14, but the Cowgirls are one of only three teams in the conference to own a win over a top-10 opponent with their staggering upset of then No. 9 Arkansas, 60-58, on Jan. 2. OSU also owns a 60-56 win over Kansas for their only league win of the season.

Aside from that conference victory over the Jayhawks in Stillwater on Jan. 15, the Big 12 has not been kind to the Cowgirls. OSU opened the league season with a 33-point loss at Texas, before falling by 15 points at home to Texas A&M. After knocking off KU, the Cowgirls suffered a 50-point loss at Texas Tech, followed by a 14-point home loss to Colorado and at Nebraska. OSU also lost to Missouri (22-points) on the road.

For the season, Oklahoma State has been outscored by an average of 13.3 points per game (57.5-70.8), while being outrebounded by 8.4 boards per game (34.2-42.6). OSU has also committed 1.2 more turnovers per game than the opposition.

The Cowgirls have also struggled offensively, shooting just 36.4 percent from the field and 26.5 percent from three-point range. They have also hit just 69.3 percent of their free throws.

Junior center Trisha Skibbe has led OSU throughout the season, ranking among the top scorers in the league with 16.0 points per game, while grabbing a team-leading 7.1 rebounds per contest. Skibbe is the only Cowgirl averaging in double figures and the only player to start every game this season for OSU.

Freshman guard Meghan Craig ranks second on the club, averaging 8.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, while another freshman, forward Lori Allen, ranks fourth on the team with 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest.

Senior guards Shelby Hutchens (5.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg) and Chantoya Hawkins (6.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg) round out Oklahoma State's probable starting five. Along with her scoring and rebounding averages, Hawkins also leads the Cowgirls with 71 assists and 42 steals on the season. She also ranks 22nd in the NCAA for best free throw percentage, hitting 87.0 percent (47-of-54) of her shots.

Through 14 non-conference games, Oklahoma's offense was churning out 69.7 points per game, while shooting 42.3 percent from the field and nearly 30.0 percent from three-point range. Oklahoma posted a solid 9-4 mark in non-league action despite playing 2002 NCAA Final Four teams Tennessee and Connecticut, plus NCAA Sweet 16 teams Stanford and North Carolina from a year ago.

OU is averaging just 61.4 points in conference play, but the Sooners showed signs of life with a 77-point effort against Texas A&M that included 46 points in the second half. The Sooners knocked down 5-of-11 three-pointers against the Aggies and hit 54.9 percent from the field for the game. OU's 77-point effort was its highest output since scoring 87 points in a win over Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 28.

Maria Villarroel, Chelsi Welch and Dionnah Jackson are averaging double figures in league play, with Villarroel and Welch each managing 13.1 points per game and Jackson adding 11.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Jackson has been the most consistent Sooner with non-conference averages of 12.7 ppg and 5.7 rpg. She also is the only player on the team who has more assists than turnovers in league play. Jackson sports a 2.1 assists/turnover ratio which ranks second best in conference games.

Theresa Schuknecht's Big 12 production (8.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) is the biggest disappointment as her numbers do not matched her performance in non-conference action (12.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg).

Phylesha Whaley, former Sooner great and Kodak All-American honorable mention pick in 2000, returns to the Lloyd Noble Center on Sunday, Feb. 9. Whaley, now the Director of Basketball Operations for Oklahoma State, poured OU's foundation to its recent women's basketball success. She became the first player in Oklahoma women's basketball history to be drafted professionally by the WNBA and has been OU's only top 10 finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year honors (2000). Whaley was OU's first to earn Big 12 Conference Player of the Year honors (2000) and was also a four-time All-Big 12 selection. She led OU in scoring for four consecutive years and rebounding her last three seasons. The Slaton, Texas, native finished as one of the best in several career categories, including all-time leading scorer (2,187), scoring average (18.9), offensive (313) and defensive (579) rebounds and minutes played per game (34.9). Whaley became the first and remains the only player to have scored 40 points in a single game. She was also OU coach Sherri Coale's first recruit.

Seventh-year assistant coach Jan Ross will be inducted into Oklahoma Christian University Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 15.

As a player at Oklahoma Christian, she was an NAIA All-America honorable mention, All-District IX and All-Sooner Athletic Conference selection as a senior (1986). She also was an NAIA Scholar Athlete and was elected to Who's Who. An all-state athlete at Putnam City West, Ross ranks No. 11 on Oklahoma Christian's career scoring list with 1,348 points. She holds the school record for career steals (300) and completed her career with a. 537 field goal percentage and 494 assists.

After ending her collegiate career with OCU, Ross joined the program as an assistant coach for five years and served as assistant athletic director for two years.

The Chickasha, Okla., native played prep ball at Putnam City West. Ross received her bachelor's degree in mathematics with a minor in physical education from Oklahoma Christian (1986) and her master's degree in sports administration from Oklahoma (1990).

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 second on the Big 12 charts in assists/turnover ratio with a 2.1, 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 six games, she has nailed 83.3 percent of her attempted shots at the foul line. And, in league play she's hitting 76.9 (20-of-26). 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 6.8 boards per game (7th in the Big 12), in conference games, and ranks seventh the Big 12 in defensive boards with 5.5 per game. In addition, the St. Louis, Mo., native ranks second on the team in overall points (12.0 ppg) and 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)

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

She scored all eight of OU's points with the assistance of two threes in the final 1:32 against Texas to cut the lead to 54-57 with 28 seconds to play. At Nebraska, she scored 10 of her 17 points in the final 20 minutes of the game, including going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Welch is among the Sooners best in three-point field goal percentage (30.6%), attempts (4.5) and threes made per game (1.4) in conference matchups. She also is tied for first on the team in scoring (13.1 ppg) and currently ranks third in field goal percentage, hitting 35.3 percent (29-of-72), of players attempting more than 50 shots, when playing conference opponents.

Oklahoma has appeared at the free throw line at least 20 times in 15 of 21 games this season. However, OU has only made the trip to the charity stripe 20 plus times in four of eight Big 12 games.

The Sooners' charity points have dropped from 17.9 in non-conference play to 14.3 in Big 12 action. Also, OU's appearances at the stripe has gone from 25.8 to 20.3 per game.

Over the past four games, OU has only scored 10.3 points from the foul line and attempted just 16.8 shots from the stripe.

Nebraska became the first team this season to shoot more free throws than OU. The Cornhuskers appeared at the stripe 27 times to Oklahoma's 20. Baylor topped Nebraska's appears with 35 free trips to the foul line. Setting an OU opponent single game best was Texas A&M, when the Aggies appeared at the stripe a season-high 40 times.

The fewest free throws Oklahoma has attempted in a single game this season has been 11 against Kansas State and at Stanford, second lowest was 12 against Texas.

OU has hit 80 percent from the charity stripe six times, including a season-best 84.2 percent (16-of-19) at Kansas.

Oklahoma now has five different players to have score 20-or-more points in a single game. OU's five players have do so in 14 different games. Most recently, freshmen guards Laura Andrews and Chelsi Welch shocked Big 12 opponent Baylor and Texas with 20 plus points each. Andrews took Baylor for a career-high 21 points in OU's 65-64 win at Baylor. Welch dropped in a career-best 20 points against Texas.

Junior Maria Villarroel tops the team in this category with seven 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).

Sophomore Lauren Shoush has started the last four games for Oklahoma. She earned this promotion with previous game and practice performances.

Shoush, an Oklahoma City native, has been the energy source for the women's basketball team as of late. Shoush's intensity sparked Sooner runs in the Texas A&M (Jan. 18) and Kansas (Jan. 22) games. She started the second half and played a then career-high 28 minutes against the Jayhawks. The guard turned in five points, had three rebounds, three steals and an assist. Her minutes were more than just numbers, as she was diving for loose balls, jumping into passing lanes and battling for every rebound.

Most recently, Shoush 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.

The Putnam City North High School graduate is averaging 4.3 points, 2.4 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game in Big 12 match ups. But, what's more impressive is her 100 percent effort.

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 5,377 fans overall.

Topping the overall chart is Connecticut's 13,571, Tennessee's 13,323 and Texas Tech's 11,985 fans per game. Six Big 12 schools rank among the nation's top 25 in attendance.

Oklahoma freshmen Chelsi Welch, Laura Andrews, Antionette Wadsworth, Erin Higgins and Beky Preston rank among the Big 12 top 20 statistical leaders in eight categories.

Welch currently ranks among the Big 12 top rookies in five statistical areas. She's third best in scoring (11.0 ppg), third in free throw percentage (79.1%), fifth in steals (1.38 spg), 12th in three-point field goal percentage (29.19%) and 10th in assists (1.4 apg).

Andrews, who's improved her performances over the past few games, now ranks sixth in rebounding (4.1 rpg), 12th in free throw percentage (68.4%) and 18th in scoring (4.1 ppg) and 21st in assists (0.67 apg) per game.

Preston appears at No. 9 in blocked shots (0.47 bpg) and 12th in field goal percentage (49.0%) and 10th in rebounds (3.5 rpg).

Wadsworth ranks 19th in field goal percentage (42.3%) 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), fifth in scoring (10.0 ppg), assists (2.3 apg) and sixth in steals (1.33 spg).

Prior to the Texas A&M game Wednesday, freshman Laura Andrews had been stepping up for the Sooners. The 6-0 guard/forward averaged 11.0 points and a team-best 9.0 rebounds per game in her previous three outings. She also shot 40 percent from the field (12-of-30) and 31.6 percent from beyond the three-point line (6-of-19) against Kansas State, Texas and Baylor. For the year, Andrews is contributing 4.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Oklahoma is 9-0 when leading at halftime and 1-3 when trailing at intermission against Big 12 teams.

Oklahoma shot a season-best 54.9 (28-51) percent from the field and 45.9 (5-11) percent from the arc against Texas A&M in its first meeting (Jan. 18).

OU's 23 assists and 17 steals vs. Texas A&M (Jan. 18) also tops the league for best single game performance. Maria Villarroel's 9-of-9 field goal shooting against the Aggies sits atop the league charts for best field goal percentage.

Oklahoma's 27-of-36 performance at the free throw line against Texas Tech (Jan. 15) ranks No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the Big 12 Conference for single game best in league match ups.

Laura Andrew's five made three at Baylor ranks second best and 10 attempts is the most in league play by an individual.

Oklahoma hit a season-high 10 three pointers and had a season-high 28 fouls called against the Sooners at Baylor (Jan. 26). OU's 38.9 percent free throw performance (7-18) at BU was a season low. Unfortunately, OU followed that poor free throw shooting performance with a 41.7 (5-12) showing at the stripe against Texas. OU's five free throws made was a season low. These are the only two games of the season that OU has shot below 50 percent from the stripe.

OU connected on a season-best 84.2 percent (16-19) of its free throws at Kansas (Jan. 22). OU also matched a season low 31 rebounds at KU, while the Jayhawks had an OU opponent season-high 30 turnovers.

Junior guard Maria Villarroel is averaging 16.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in games played inside the Lloyd Noble Center compare to just 12.6 points and 3.6 boards in games played away from the center. She is also hitting 65.3 percent of her shots at home. In games that OU has lost, Villarroel has only scored 11.5 points per contest.

Over the last four games, Villarroel has only produced 6.0 points, 3.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from the field. She has also averaged 3.3 turnovers per game in 21.0 minutes per outing.

Since being benched for the last four games, senior center Theresa Schuknecht has contributed 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 18.8 minutes per game plus shot 34.6 percent from the field (9-of-26).

Oklahoma is 1-6 against top 25 teams and 0-5 vs. teams in the top 10. Five of OU's six losses came against top 10 teams, with setbacks to No. 2 Tennessee (94-68), No. 5 Connecticut (73-60), No. 6 Stanford (58-38) along with a narrow loss to SMU (71-68). Three of OU's four conference losses have been to ranked teams: No. 3 Kansas State (74-45), No. 7 Texas Tech (80-71) and No. 11 Texas (60-54). OU owns a 66-63 victory over No. 12 North Carolina (Nov. 30).



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