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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Women's Basketball Faces Gonzaga
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 12/12/2000
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Dec. 12, 2000

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As the Christmas shoppers in the Palouse hope the temperatures will rise outside, the Washington State women's basketball team will attempt to break out of their recent cold spell when they face the Gonzaga Bulldogs (3-5), Sunday, Dec. 17 at Friel Court. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. Pacific time. The Gonzaga game is the only contest for the Cougars during a 19-day span (Dec. 10-28). After the Bulldogs, WSU will have eleven days off before heading to Missoula, Mont. for the Lady Griz Holiday Classic hosted by the University of Montana.

WSU Coach Jenny Przekwas on the Cougars' Upcoming Schedule:
"We certainly have a lot of work to do before the Pac-10 season starts. We have three games to prepare so we are looking to make the most out of these next couple of weeks."

A Look At Gonzaga:
While the Cougars can look forward to a layoff after Sunday, the Bulldogs will come off a nine-day break when they play the Cougars. The WSU game will begin a stretch of three games in six days for Gonzaga. After their visit to Friel Court, the Bulldogs will face Montana (Dec. 20) and Montana State (Dec. 22) before their Christmas break arrives. Gonzaga began its layoff on a high note with a 73-67 win over UC-Riverside Dec. 7. That win snapped a three-game losing streak for Gonzaga and salvaged one game of their four-game homestand. Junior forward Jessica Malone heads the Bulldog attack leading the team in points (21.1 per game) and rebounds (7.8). In the win over UC-Riverside Malone poured in a game high 26 points in addition to grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds. Junior guard Erin Bergman (12.6 points per game) is the only other player averaging double figures in points for the Bulldogs.

Series History:
Sunday's game will be the 18th meeting between WSU and Gonzaga. The Cougars have dominated up to this point, taking 15 of the past 17 contests. However, the Bulldogs possess the current bragging rights in the series due to their 82-66 win over the Cougars last year in Spokane. The squads have played one common opponent this season, BYU. The Cougars lost 90-58 to BYU, Nov. 30 at Pullman while Gonzaga fell to BYU 74-57, Dec. 2 at Spokane.

Przekwas on Gonzaga:
"I think tradition and history is important but not necessarily right now. Gonzaga did come out very strong and beat us last year. They have the edge in that respect although I think that we have the edge playing at home. We are going to take our best game and put it on the court. There is no doubt about that."

Injury Update:
Senior guard Jessica Collins missed the last two games and is expected to be out for the Gonzaga game with a problem to her left foot. Senior forward Yvonne Volkman also is suffering from an aching left foot and is questionable for Gonzaga.

No Double-Digit - Yet:
Seven games into this young season, the Cougars do not have a player averaging double figures in scoring. That could soon change however as Yvonne Volkman has been heating up the basket in her past five games. Volkman began the season with a total of three points in the Cougars' first two games against American and George Washington. However, she then ran off a string of four consecutive games in double figures highlighted by an 18-point performance against Portland. Her scoring output against the Pilots was just one shy of her career high. In addition, Volkman helped others to make a mark on the scoreboard with a team high six assists against Portland. That total tied a career high set earlier this season against Vermont. Though her double-digit scoring streak was snapped with six points against Toledo, Volkman has still averaged 12 points in her last five games. For the season, Volkman leads the team with a nine points per game average.

Nyseth Lends A Hand:
With 291 career assists senior Katie Nyseth has moved up to seventh place on the Cougars' all-time list in that category. Nyseth is just 16 assists shy of Penny Bowden (307 assists, 1987-88) for sixth position. Nyseth, who is averaging 7.3 points and 4.0 rebounds a game, leads the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage (7-of-14, .500). Although the season is young, Nyseth has already compiled an impressive list of honors for the season.

At the Rutgers University Coca-Cola Classic, Nyseth was honored with the Classic's Scholar Athlete Award. 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. In two games versus George Washington and Vermont, Nyseth averaged 10 points, five rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals.

In addition, she was selected to the second team of Successful Farming Magazine's All American Women's Basketball Farm Team. 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 commemorating the selection.

Nyseth is majoring in Biological Systems Engineering 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.

Last Week's Game Summaries:
Cougar Shootout, Spokane Arena

Portland (Dec. 8) - Sharon Rissmiller scored a game high 27 points, 18 in the second half, as the Portland Pilots overcame a 17-point second half deficit to capture a 68-63 win over the Cougars in the first round of the Hayden Homes Cougar Shootout.

Yvonne Volkman led WSU with 18 points, leading a contingent of three Cougar players who scored in double figures. But the Cougars could not score when they needed it most in the second half as the Pilots outscored WSU 40-24 in the final stanza.

After taking a 39-28 lead into the half, the Cougars extended their advantage to 45-28 at the 17:40 mark of the second half. The Pilots took off from that point on, outscoring WSU 29-12 in the next 13:57 to tie the game at 57 with 3:58 left.

The Cougars seemed to reassert control with four consecutive points but a Rissmiller three-pointer sparked an 11-2 Portland run to close out the game. Rissmiller accounted for seven of those final 11 points.

The difference in the game can be found in the field goal percentage and the free throw line for the Cougars in the second half. WSU shot 53.3 percent (16-of-30) in the first half but only found the bucket 9-of-24 times (37.5 percent) in the second half. Portland also went to the line 15 more times than WSU in the second half, making 11 more free throws.

Toledo (Dec. 9) - Courtney Risinger and Kahli Carter led all scorers with 16 points each to lead the Toledo Rockets to a 77-61 win over the Cougars in the consolation game of the Cougar Shootout.

With the contest tied at 20 with 8:02 left in the first half, Toledo outscored WSU 15-8 the rest of the stanza to take a 35-28 halftime lead. The Rockets immediately shot out to a double-digit lead by outscoring WSU 12-2 in the first 6:08 of the second half to take control of the game.

Kelley Berglund led WSU with 15 points and Whitney Martindale added 11 for the Cougars.

Second-Half Blues:
The 68-63 loss to Portland was the first game of the season that WSU has lost when leading at the half. The Cougars are 2-1 when leading at the half and 1-3 when trailing. For the season the Cougars have outscored their opponents 205-201 in the first half but have been outscored 261-235 in the second half.

Przekwas on WSU playing a full 40 minutes:
"I think that we have played good basketball for 20 minutes and sometimes longer in many ball games. We just haven't been able to consistently sustain it. What we are going to have to do is to find out how to play 40 minutes. We are going to need to learn how to play with the tension of a close ballgame for an extended period of time."

First Time In The Arena:
The Dec. 8 game versus Portland marked the first time the Cougars played at the Spokane Arena. Last weekend's 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 three teams (George Washington, Vermont, BYU) that has played in the 2000 NCAA Tournament and will play four more squads (Arizona, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA,) and potentially a fifth (Montana) that advanced to the field of 64 last year.

Consistent Starters:
The Cougars have used three different starting line-ups so far this season. The most common ensemble has been the quintet of Yvonne Volkman, Jessica Ottmar, Katie Nyseth, Sarah Barrett and Kelley Berglund, who have been the starting line-up for five games. Brittney Hawks has started two games, while Victoria Harrod has been the starter for one contest this season. Volkman, Ottmar and Nyseth have started all seven of WSU's games.

Smith Watch:
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 .393 (126-321) career three-point percentage, Smith ranks third on the school's all-time list.

Cougar Numbers:
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 16.4 turnovers in its past five games and 19.5 turnovers for the season. The Cougars' opponents have turned the rock over an average of 19.3 times a contest.

Free Throw Trials:
After leading the Pac-10 in free throw percentage last year, the Cougars find themselves tied with UCLA for last place in the conference in that category. WSU is shooting at a .608 clip (87-of-143) from the charity stripe in seven games this season. Although the Cougars have struggled from the line they have steadily improved the past three games, shooting over 68 percent in each game. The 70 percent effort (14-of-20) against Toledo was a season best. While WSU has struggled from the line, it also has not been receiving as many opportunities as its opponents. The Cougars' opponents have 47 more free throw attempts this season, converting on 72.1 percent of those opportunities (137-of-190).

Washington State Cougars Women's Basketball
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