No. 22 Oklahoma Travels to Kansas For Big 12 Action

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 21, 2003

Jan. 21, 2003

Norman, Okla. -

Quickly: Oklahoma (11-5, 2-1 Big 12) returns to road for two Big 12 Conference matchups starting Wednesday as the Sooners travel to Lawrence, Kan., to face the Kansas Jayhawks (7-8, 0-4 Big 12) at 7 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse.

OU is coming off of a 38-point victory over Texas A&M Saturday in Norman, while Kansas will be looking for its first conference victory of the year. The Jayhawks have lost 20-straight Big 12 games, dating back to Jan. 2, 2002.

TV: None.

Radio: The game will be broadcast live on KOMA (1520-AM) and on the Internet at Brian Brinkley and Tara DeGiusti will call the action for the Sooners.

Rankings: Oklahoma is ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll this week. OU was 23rd in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches poll last week. This week's poll was unavailable as of Tuesday at Noon. Kansas is not ranked.

Series Records: Kansas leads the all-time series 27-18 but OU has won the last four games by no fewer than 19 points. Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale is 4-3 against KU.

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 124-78. (For more information on Coale see page 3).

Kansas Head Coach Marian Washington (West Chester State, 1970) has produced a career record of 547-337 in 30 years of coaching at Kansas. Washington has captured seven conference regular season and six tournament titles. In addition, she has coached 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament and was an assistant coach for the 1996 U.S. Women's Basketball Olympic Gold Medal team.

Upcoming Opponent: Oklahoma travels to Waco, Texas, to face the Baylor Bears in a Sooner Sports Network game at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26.

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 ended her basketball career on Jan. 7.

Despite the new look, Oklahoma continued its success during a rugged non-conference schedule. Four of OU's five losses came against top 10 teams, with setbacks to No. 2 Tennessee (94-68), No. 5 Connecticut (73-60), No. 6 Stanford (58-38) and No. 7 Texas Tech (80-71) 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 17.4 points per game and a 63.4 field goal percentage, which ranks nationally. She also averages 4.7 rebounds per game.

Sophomore Dionnah Jackson joins Villarroel in double figures with 12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and a team-high 4.6 assists per game.

Inside, senior center Theresa Schuknecht, a transfer from Arizona State, has added 12.3 points and a team-leading 7.6 rebounds per contest.

Freshman Chelsi Welch has also started every game for the Sooners, averaging 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Freshman forward Laura Andrews (3.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) claimed the fifth starting spot with the loss of Simon and Hill.

The Sooners are averaging 69.4 points per game on offense, while allowing 61.2 points per game defensively for an average scoring margin of +8.2 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 29.5 percent (61-207) from three-point range, compared to their 36.4 percent (211-580) success rate from long range last season.

Kansas is a team that's looking to snap a 20-game losing streak in the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks have been in the cellar of the league for the last two seasons. KU opened the 2002-03 campaign winning its first four games before losing its next four matchups. In Big 12 action, Kansas has loss to Kansas State (88-49), Iowa State (72-70), Oklahoma State (60-56) and Colorado (71-50).

The Jayhawks have three players averaging at least 10 points a game. Sophomore guard Aquanita Burras tops the team with 11.3 points per game, followed by a pair of freshman post players in Tamara Ransburg's 10.8 and Crystal Kemp's 10.0 ppg. Defensively, Ransburg hauls down a team-best 8.4 rebounds per game, which ranks third best in the league.

As a team, KU averages 63.3 points, while their opponents are allowed to score 64.9 points per game. The Jayhawks are outrebounding their opponents, 38.1-35.9.


Oklahoma                           PPGRPG
22  CTheresa Schuknecht (6-3, Sr.-TF)12.3    7.6
33  G/FLaura Andrews (6-0, Fr.)3.13.5
35  GDionnah Jackson (5-9, So.)12.46.1
0   GChelsi Welch (5-9, Fr.)        10.13.8
5   GMaria Villarroel (5-8, Jr.-TF)17.44.7

Kansas PPGRPG 3 FBlair Waltz (6-0, So..) 8.22.5 40 FCrystal Kemp (6-2, Fr.) 10.0 5.7 44 FAquanita Burras (5-9, So.) 11.3 5.4 22 CTamara Ransburg (6-4, Fr.) 10.8 8.4 21 GLeila Menguc (5-6, Jr. 3.42.5

Oklahoma shot a season-best 54.9 (28-51) percent from the field and 45.59 (5-11) percent from the arc against Texas A&M. OU also shot 80.0 percent from the foul line, marking the fourth time this season the Sooners have nailed 80 percent or better from the stripe.

Oklahoma now leads the Big 12 Conference in steals per game, the Sooners are averaging 12.33 thefts an outing after pocketing a season-high 17 against Texas A&M Saturday.

With the Sooners hot shooting against Texas A&M OU jumped from 10th to sixth in the league for best field goal percentage with a 42.3 percent.

Junior guard Maria Villarroel is averaging 19.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in games played inside the Lloyd Noble Center compare to just 12.7 and 3.3 boards in games played away from the center. She is also hitting 69.8 percent of her shots at home. In games that OU has lost, Villarroel has only scored 13.6 points per contest.

Sophomore guard Dionnah Jackson also prefers to play at home, averaging 14.0 ppg as to 9.5 ppg on the road. Jackson also shoots 53.7 percent from the field in games that the Sooners have won compare to shooting just 26.2 percent in OU's losses.

Preferring to play on the road is freshman Chelsi Welch. Welch averages 12.0 ppg to her 9.3 ppg at home. She also averages 4.2 rebounds a game on the road to 3.2 boards at home.

Oklahoma sports a solid 71.9 free throw percentage in the final two minutes of the game. The Sooners have hit 46-of-64 attempted free throws down the stretch.

Player Performances Under the Two-Minute Mark
Players    FTMFTAPct.
Chelsi Welch    441.000
Lauren Shoush    221.000
Caton Hill    221.000
Erin Higgins    221.000
Maria Villarroel    1316.813
Theresa Schuknecht  45.800
Laura Andrews    46.670
Dionnah Jackson    914.643
Beky Preston    36.500
A. Wadsworth    11.500
Kate Scott    12.500
Step Luce    14.250

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 4,733 fans overall. Topping the overall chart is Connecticut's 13,668, Tennessee's 12,720 and Texas Tech's 12,025 fans per game. Six Big 12 schools rank among the nation's top 25 in attendance.

Oklahoma is two victories shy of its 500th win in program history. Current and previous Sooner teams have established an overall record of 448-371 in 28 years (.547 winning percentage).

Head Coach Sherri Coale has been responsible for 124 of those victories. Coale is 18 wins shy of tying OU's all-time winningest coach Maura McHugh's 142 victory mark.

OU freshman-redshirt Antoinette Wadsworth has picked up her play in Big 12 action. The Grand Prairie, Texas, native is averaging 2.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game in 13.7 minutes a contest. She is also shooting 60.0 percent from the field, hitting three of five attempted shots, against Big 12 teams.

For the year, she has played in 10 games with averages of 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds per game plus boast a field goal percentage of 52.4 (11-of-21) percent.

Oklahoma freshman Chelsi Welch currently ranks among the Big 12 top rookies in several statistical categories. Welch ranks third among the freshmen class in scoring with 10.1 points and steals (1.56 spg) per game and eighth in rebounds (3.8) per game.

Freshman-redshirt Antionette Wadsworth ranks 10th in field goal percentage (52.4%) and 17th in rebounds per game with 2.5. In addition, freshman Laura Andrews ranks 11th with 3.5 boards per outing.

Even though she only played three games, freshman standout Erin Higgins racked up some impressive numbers to rank among the leagues top rookies. Higgins leads the league for best free throw percent (100%, 6-6), tied for second for best three-point field goal percentage (50%, 8-16), fifth in scoring (10.0 ppg) and sixth in steals (1.33 spg).

Oklahoma has taken the trip to the free throw line at least 20 times in 14-of-16, while Sooner opponents have only appeared at the charity stripe 20 plus times on five occasions.

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.

The fewest free throws Oklahoma has attempted in a single game this season have been 11 (at Stanford). OU has hit 80 percent from the charity stripe four times, including a season-best 80.8 twice.

For the past four seasons, Oklahoma has been one of the best free throw shooting teams in the league. OU made a Big 12 best 582 free throws and finished second in the conference with a .748 accuracy last year. The Sooners currently rank fifth with a 70.4 free throw accuracy.

Since 1998-99, the Sooners have not ranked lower than fourth in free throw percentage among Big 12 teams. OU finished the 2002, 2000 and 1999 seasons with the second best free throw percentage and in two of those three years (2002 and 2000) OU scored more points from the charity stripe than any other team in the league. In 1999, OU finished second for most points scored from the foul line.

Oklahoma has appeared at the free throw line nearly double that of its opponents this year, 412 to 258. The Sooners have earned 290 free points while 173 points have been scored by other teams. Oklahoma is shooting 70.4 percent from the foul line, compare to 67.1 percent by opponents.

Head Coach Sherri Coale emphasizes the value of doing the fundamentals right in basketball. One of the biggest fundamental skills in the sport is boxing out your opponent. The Sooners have been extremely successful in this category over the past four years. Oklahoma has finished among the top five teams in the Big 12 Conference for most total rebounds the past four seasons. OU took top honors for most rebounds in the league in 2002 (1,411) and 2001 (1,402).

OU is currently averaging 41.1 rebounds a game, fifth best in the Big 12. The Sooners have outrebounded nine teams, including a season-high 51 boards against Wichita State. Oklahoma is 6-2 when collecting more total rebounds then its opponent.

Junior Maria Villarroel reclaimed her No. 1 ranking in the Big 12 Conference for best field goal percentage after going 9 of 9 against Texas A&M Saturday. Villarroel is shooting an impressive 63.4 percent from the field. She ranks fifth in the league in scoring averaging 17.4 ppg and 10th in steals with 2.19 spg. In league games only, the 5-8 guard ranks third in scoring (19.3 ppg) and steals (3.0), fourth in field goal percentage (61.3%), seventh in offensive boards (3.33), eighth in free throw percentage (83.3%), 12th in blocked shots (1.0) and 17th in rebounding (6.7 rpg).

Senior Theresa Schuknecht, sophomore Dionnah Jackson and freshman Chelsi Welch also ranks among the conference best in scoring. Jackson ranks 18th (12.4 ppg), followed by Schuknecht at 20th (12.3 ppg) and Welch at 28th (10.1 ppg).

Schuknecht slips to seventh in free throw percentage, hitting 86.3 percent of her shots, stays at fourth in offensive rebounds (3.31) and drops to 10th in total rebounds (7.6 rpg).

Jackson moves up to 18th in rebounds per game (6.1), stays at 14th in defensive boards (4.56), ninth in assists (4.40) and 13th in assists/turnover ratio (1.20), but moves down to sixth in steals (2.31).

Welch continues to rank among the league's top players as she ranks 13th in free throw percentage (.745) and 15th in 3-point field goal percentage (.308).

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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