Cougars Begin Pac-10 Season
Jan. 2, 2001
What's Happening This Week
Thursday, January 4
vs. USC (5-5) 7 p.m. Pacific FRIEL COURTSaturday, January 6
vs. UCLA (1-10) 7 p.m. Pacific FRIEL COURT
Let The Season Begin! - PAC-10 That Is: After splitting their 10 non-conference games, the Washington State Cougars begin their PAC-10 season hosting the USC Trojans, Thursday, Jan. 4. Two days later, the UCLA Bruins visit WSU, Saturday, Jan. 6. Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. tip-off at Friel Court. The Cougars will be without the services of Yvonne Volkman and Jessica Collins this weekend. Volkman and Collins have missed their last three and five games, respectively, due to a stress fracture of their left foot. Before her injury, Volkman was the team's leading scorer averaging nine points a game.
This Week's Opponents
USC (5-5): Like the Cougars, the Trojans begin Pac-10 play by splitting their 10 non-conference outings. The Trojans last game was a 70-61 loss to third-ranked and undefeated Notre Dame. USC is led in scoring by Aisha Hollans who has averaged 13.5 points in just four games. Tiffany Elmore and Denise Woods are the other players averaging double digits in scoring at 10.5 and 10.3, respectively.
UCLA (1-10): The Bruins latest outing was an 89-55 defeat to the fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. UCLA is led in scoring by Michelle Greco who is averaging 18.7 points a game. In their 10 losses the Bruins have lost by an average score of 79.4-56.1.
USC: Thursday's game will be the 30th meeting between the Cougars and Trojans. USC has won the past two meetings and holds a 19-10 series advantage. Last year, the Trojans defeated WSU 71-61 at Los Angeles and 62-59 at Pullman. The Cougars last win in the series was Feb. 27, 1999 when the Trojans fell 63-51 at Pullman. WSU is 6-8 against USC of the series' 14 games at Pullman.
UCLA: The Bruins and Cougars will hook up for the 29th time when they meet at Friel Court this Saturday. The series, up to this point, has been dominated by UCLA as the Bruins have taken 23 of the previous 28 meetings. The Cougars have dropped the last eight games versus the Bruins, losing by double-digits in the past four games. Wazzu's last victory in the series was March 9, 1996, an 88-81 win at Pullman. The Cougars are 4-10 against the Bruins in the 14 contests at Pullman.
The Coach: Jenny Przekwas is in her second season at the helm of the Cougars and her tenth as a head coach overall. Przekwas is 9-29 with the Cougars and 142-128 overall. Prior to coming to the Palouse, Przekwas spenteight years at Saint Francis (Penn.) where she left as the winningest coach in school history compiling a 133-99 overall record. During her tenure, Przekwas guided Saint Francis to four Northeast Conference titles and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Last Week's Wrap-Up
Samford, Dec. 29: The Cougars ended an 11-day lay-off with the Lady Griz Holiday Classic at Missoula, Mont. WSU began the tournament on a high note with a 76-49 win over Samford.
Whitney Martindale recorded the first double-double of her career and the first by a Cougar this season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Martindale led a balanced scoring attack as Sarah Barrett added nine points and four players (Brittney Hawks, Jessica Ottmar, Szudia Bragg and Kelley Berglund) chipped in eight points each for WSU.
With Samford holding a slim 22-21 lead at the 7:26 mark of the first half WSU scored seven straight points to take a 28-22 lead with 5:17 left. The Cougars would never trail again and extended their advantage to 38-27 at the halftime break.
WSU dashed any Samford hopes of a comeback by scoring the first six points of the second half to extend its lead to 17. The 27-point margin of victory was the largest for the Cougars this season.
Montana, Dec. 30: Despite a career high 23-point performance from Kelley Berglund, the Washington State Cougars could not overcome a slow start and fell to the Montana Lady Griz 80-66 in the Lady Griz Holiday Classic Championship game.
WSU never led in the game as Montana jumped out to the lead quickly scoring eight of the game's first nine points. The Lady Griz held as large as a 13-point lead in the first half before settling for a 37-28 halftime advantage.
Despite the deficit, the Cougars kept Montana's lead to within single digits for the first portion of the second half. In fact, WSU cut the Lady Griz's lead to as little as 53-49 at the 10:36 mark of the second half. However, five consecutive points by Montana stretched the lead to nine at 58-49 with 8:50 left and the Cougars never threatened again.
Berglund and Katie Nyseth earned all-tournament team selections.
Honors Continue For Nyseth: Speaking of Nyseth, the all-tournament selection at the Lady Griz Classic was just the latest in a string of honors that have rolled in for her this season. Maybe the most noteworthy of these honors has been her selection as one of eight finalists for the second annual One-On-One Sports Socrates Award Dec. 19.The Socrates Award is presented annually to the college athlete who best exemplifies excellence in athletics, academics and the Socrates creed 'Strong Mind In A Strong Body.' This includes a student-athlete who has shown himself or herself to be a leader and quality contributor in their sport(s), an outstanding student academically and a quality citizen in his/her community. Last year's inaugural winner of the award was Purdue quarterback Drew Brees.
This year's finalists, along with Nyseth and Brees are Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke from Florida State, Bethany Bogart (UCLA, soccer), Andre Carter (California, football), Kimball Christianson (Utah, football), Ben Hamilton (Minnesota, football) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (Nebraska, football).
The award will be presented at the March of Dimes National Athletic Award event scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, 2001 at the Fox Theater in Detroit, Mich. CBS Sports' Greg Gumbel will serve as Master of Ceremonies and Fox Sports Net will televise the event. The winner of the award will be announced in early January.
The Socrates Award is another of an ever-growing list of honors for Nyseth, a 5-3 senior guard from Cheshire, Ore., this season. Nyseth was honored with the 2000 Rutgers University Coca-Cola Classic Scholar Athlete Award, Nov. 24. An aspect of the award was a scholarship donation made to WSU in Nyseth's name. In addition, she was an All-Tournament Team selection at the Classic, Nov. 25-26. In two games versus George Washington and Vermont, Nyseth averaged 10 points, five rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals.
Just a week later, Nyseth was named with a second team selection to the Successful Farming Magazine's All American Women's Basketball Farm Team, Dec. 2. The All American Farm Team is a scholastic program honoring outstanding college athletes who call a farm or ranch home. All athletes and their parents receive a plaque honoring their selection to the team.
Nyseth is a Biological Systems Engineering major and carries a 3.86 GPA. She was honored last year as the College of Agriculture and the Biological Systems Engineering Junior of the Year. In addition, she was a 2000 Pacific-10 All-Academic Team selection.
With 305 career assists senior Nyseth ranks seventh on the Cougars' all-time list in that category. Nyseth is just two assists shy of Penny Bowden (307 assists, 1987-88) for sixth position. Nyseth is averaging 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds a game. In addition, she leads the team in assists (4.8 a game) and steals (2.2 a game).
Diverse Scoring: While WSU does not have a player who is averaging double figures in scoring, it does have eight players averaging five points or more a game. The Cougars are led in scoring by Brittney Hawks' 9.5 points a game. Hawks also leads the team in rebounding with a 5.0 per game average. Through 10 games, 14 of the 15 players on the squad have made a mark on the scoreboard and all 15 players have seen action in at least three games.
No Second-Half Blues Anymore: Prior to the Montana contest the Cougars had been outscored in the second half in four of their first seven games. However, in games eight and nine the Cougars outscored their opposition by an average score of 38.5-23. WSU has outscored its opposition 306-297 in the first half and played its opposition on even terms at 350-350 in the second half.
First Time In The Arena: The Dec. 8 game versus Portland marked the first time the Cougars played at the Spokane Arena. The Dec. 8-9 Cougar Shootout was just a taste of the future for the Arena when it comes to women's basketball. WSU and the Arena will host the 2001 NCAA West Regional, March 24 & 26 with a trip to the Women's Final Four in St. Louis, March 30 & April 1, at stake.
NCAA Flavor: It is fitting that WSU will host the 2001 NCAA West Regional with the large 2000 NCAA Tournament presence on its schedule. WSU has already played four teams (George Washington, Vermont, BYU, Montana) that reached the 2000 NCAA Tournament. The Cougars will play four more squads (Arizona, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA) that advanced to the field of 64 last year this season.
Other Signs: Searching for an indication of whether the Cougars have won? Other than the scoreboard look no further than the rebound and turnover columns. The Cougars are 4-0 when out-rebounding their opponents and 1-5 when being out-rebounded. Likewise, WSU is 4-0 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponents and 1-5 when committing more.
Turnover Turnaround: After beginning the season with 29 and 26 turnovers in their first two games the Cougars have been under 20 in each game since. WSU has averaged 16.8 turnovers in its past eight games and 18.9 turnovers for the season. The Cougars' opponents have turned the rock over an average of 19.8 times a contest.
Free Throw Trials: After leading the Pac-10 in free throw percentage last year, the Cougars have been struggling in that category this season. WSU is shooting at a .626 clip (119-of-190) from the charity stripe in 10 games this season. The 76.9 percent effort (10-of-13) against Gonzaga Dec. 17 was a season best for WSU and its 13-of-27 performance (.481) is a season worst. While WSU has struggled from the line, it also has not been receiving as many opportunities as its opponents. The Cougars' opposition has had 75 more free throw attempts this season, converting on 71.3 percent of those opportunities (189-of-265). The Nov. 26 game versus Vermont has been the only game in which the Cougars have attempted more free throws than their opponents (30-21).
Other Notes: With 126 career three-pointers, senior Joanna Smith needs eight more treys to surpass Heather Norman (133, 1989-92) for first on the school's all-time list. With a .385 (126-329) career three-point percentage, Smith ranks third on the school's all-time list...the Cougars have used five different starting line-ups so far this season. Jessica Ottmar and Katie Nyseth have started all 10 of WSU's games...the 76 points against Samford Dec. 29 was the most points scored by the Cougars this season...WSU has out shot its opponents by a .418 to .382 percentage. The Cougars are 4-2 when shooting above .400 and 1-3 when shooting below.