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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
USC First Round Opponent For WSU At Pac-10 Tournament
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 03/04/2003
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March 4, 2003

What's Happening:
Pacific-10 Conference Tournament
March 7-10
HP Pavilion
San Jose, Calif.

Friday, March 7
vs. USC (13-16, 8-10)
6:30 p.m.

Last Week:

Thursday, Feb. 27
Defeated Idaho 82-53
Jessica Perry leads Cougars with 20 points; Bianca McCall records eighth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds; Candace Fields records double-double with 13 points and a career-high 14 boards.

Saturday, March 1
Lost To Washington 73-49
McCall scores 20...registers her sixth game of season scoring at least 20 points and 20th overall in double figures.

What's Happening: The season begins anew for the Washington State women's basketball team (2-25, 1-17 Pac-10) at the second Pacific-10 Conference Tournament at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.; March 7-10...the 10th seeded Cougars will tip-off the tournament against No. 7 seed USC (13-16, 8-10 Pac-10), Friday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Radio: Friday's contest - and any ensuing games the Cougars may play in San Jose - will air live on KRPL AM 1400, Moscow, Idaho in addition to being carried live on the net at wsucougars.com. Alex Webster will be calling the action with the USC pre-game airing at 6:15 p.m., Friday.

About USC: The Women of Troy have four players averaging double figures in points led by Ebony Hoffman (16.1 points/game)...Rometra Craig (14.0 points/game), Aisha Hollans (12.5 points/game) and Rachel Woodward (10.2 points/game) complete the quartet...USC arrives at San Jose coming off an 87-44 win over Oregon State, March 1...prior to that win over the Beavers, the team had lost four straight.

USC-WSU series: USC holds a 24-11 advantage over WSU in the all-time series...the Women of Troy have won the last five in a row...the Cougars last tasted victory, Jan. 4, 2001 with a 79-78 win at Pullman.

Earlier This Season Against USC: USC swept the season series against WSU winning at Los Angeles, 92-44, Jan. 3 and at Pullman, 89-36, Feb. 1...the 53-point margin of defeat set a school record for WSU...the Cougars committed 33 (Jan.3) and 29 (Feb. 1) turnovers in the two games against USC this season.

WSU Head Coach Sherri Murrell On Friday's USC Game: "A lot has to do with the mentality of us. Do we believe that we can win? That is the number one factor. Number two is we have to take care of the ball. There is no way that we are going to win games if we have 33 turnovers. Number three is we have to find a way to score because we have had low scoring games against them. Those three things combined will be keys for us against USC."

Last Week: The Cougars defeated Idaho 82-53, Feb. 27 and lost to Washington 73-49, March 1...in the win over the Vandals, Jessica Perry led WSU with 20 points while Bianca McCall recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds...Candace Fields also posted her second double-double this season with 13 points and a career-high 14 boards...against the Huskies, McCall scored 20 to register her sixth game of season scoring at least 20 points and her 20th overall in double figures this season...WSU was outscored 40-17 in the first half but only 33-32 in the second half.

Murrell On The Idaho Win: "They were in sync and they came out ready and focused. They knew they could win this game and they really wanted to end their season here at Pullman with a win and it showed. Our shooting percentage was great. That was part of our game plan, which was to put the ball inside and try to attack them on the inside. They were sagging off on our shooters and finally we hit some outside shots as well. Our two goals for the game were rebounding and to put the ball inside to the post. Pac-10 basketball is really physical and we have been shoved around all year long. We felt like we could be physical and dominate Idaho and that is exactly what happened."

Murrell On The Washington Game: "They were obviously down by how they were playing in the first half. It wasn't a Cougar effort. We talked at halftime and I said 'It isn't any adjustments that we have to make to Washington, it's adjustment to ourselves.' I think the kids realized that they are better than how they were playing. I was really proud of them in the second half. We out-rebounded (Washington) and only lost the second half by one. But we just can't do that. We just can't wake up after 20 minutes and have a deficit like that to overcome."

Strength Of Schedule: Friday's USC-WSU game will match the fourth and fifth ranked teams in the nation, respectively - in the WBCA/Summerville RPI strength of schedule ratings...While WSU enters the tournament fifth in the rankings, the team's rating has been as high as second during the season...the combined win-loss record of Cougar opponents is 292-174 (.627)...12 of the Cougars' opponents are rated in the top 94 of the organization's RPI ratings: LSU (No. 4), Stanford (No. 15), Utah (No. 20), Virginia Tech (No. 25), Arizona (No. 30), Washington (No. 41), USC (No. 64), Wyoming (No. 68), UCLA (No. 72), Montana (No. 82), Montana State (No. 84), and Oregon (No. 94).

Double-Digit McCall: Bianca McCall has scored in double-digits in 20 of 26 games this season...the 6-foot-1 junior forward from Santa Rosa, Calif., has recorded eight double-doubles in points and rebounds this season, which ranks third in the Pac-10...her six 20-point games is tied for eighth in the conference...she leads the Cougars in points (13.1/game) and rebounds (8.0/game)... heading into this week's games McCall was ranked in the top 10 in the conference in five categories...she was second in offensive rebounds (3.70/game), third in total rebounds (8.0 rpg) and blocks (1.52/game), sixth in defensive rebounds (4.30/game) and ninth in scoring (13.1 ppg).

McCall Threatens Rebounding Record Against Wyoming: Bianca McCall grabbed 19 rebounds to tie her for the sixth-best single-game rebounding performance in WSU history in the Cougars' 82-51 loss to the University of Wyoming, Nov. 22 at Friel Court...McCall's effort tied the junior from Santa Rosa, Calif., with three other Cougars (Janet Kusler, 1976; Gail Houser, 1977; Brittney Hawks, 2001) who hit the 19-rebound mark...Jennifer Grey holds the school record with 22 rebounds in a game, having done it twice in 1975...McCall's contribution wasn't limited to the boards as she scored 18 points tying her with Lindsey Egeland for the team high point total.

20/Perry: After sitting out the first two games because of mononucleosis, Jessica Perry has started all 26 games since returning to action...in addition to her 20-point effort against Idaho, Feb. 27, Perry poured in a career-high 25 points on a career-best nine field goals at Stanford, Jan. 16...Perry also posted a career-high tying five steals against the Cardinal...Perry's 25 points followed up a 20 point-effort against Arizona State, Jan. 11, which was just one shy of her career-high at the time... Perry leads the team in assists (3.6/game) and is the team's second leading scorer (9.4 points/game)...she ranks eighth in the conference in assists and 10th in steals (1.84/game)...Perry dished out a season-high nine assists twice (Washington, Dec. 28 and at Gonzaga, Dec. 11) ...against Montana, Dec. 14 Perry pulled down a career-high nine rebounds.

Access Denied!: The nine blocks versus Idaho, Feb. 27 marked the second-best single-game performance by a Pac-10 team in that category this season (11, Arizona vs. Cal, March 1)...the nine rejections were one shy of the school record, which was set on three occasions, the last being Nov. 27, 1982 against Simon Frasier....last year, WSU set a single season school record with 106 blocks...with 94 blocks, the Cougars have averaged 3.48 a game, which is third in the conference.

20 In A Row: Before its loss to USC, Feb. 1 Washington State had a player score at least 20 points in six consecutive games...Bianca McCall reached 20 or more points in four consecutive games...the streak began at California, Jan. 18 (24 points) and continued against Oregon State (20 points), Oregon (20 points) and concluded against UCLA, Jan. 30 (21 points)...prior to McCall's streak, JessicaPerry scored 20 and 25 points against Arizona State, Jan. 11 and Stanford, Jan. 16, respectively...the six-game streak marked the longest run since a six-game stretch during the 1995-96 season.

Harris Joins Team: Holly Harris posted a season-high 15 points against Arizona State, Feb. 6...she made her Cougar basketball debut against Utah, Dec. 21...Harris scored eight points and pulled down three rebounds in 15 minutes of action versus the Utes...Harris pulled down a season-high nine rebounds against USC, Feb. 1...she is averaging 6.0 points and 5.1 rebounds in 20 games...Harris joined the team after a stellar run with the volleyball team...she was a member of a Cougar team that advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament...the Cougars were eliminated by Florida on the Gators' home floor in four games, Dec. 14...Harris earned a Pac-10 honorable mention selection in volleyball...she finished in the top seven on the school's career list in block assists (fifth - 333); total blocks (sixth - 384); and block solos (seventh - 53).

Montana Homecoming: Junior Lindsey Egeland turned in a solid performance in front of her hometown fans at Missoula, Mont., Dec. 14...Egeland scored six points, pulled down six rebounds and dished out four assists against Montana...Egeland, who was a four-year letterwinner at Missoula's Sentinel High School, is averaging 7.0 points a game...she is the only Cougar to have started all 27 games this season.

Fields Earns All-Tournament Honors At FIU Classic: Candace Fields earned an all-tournament team selection at the FIU/Herald Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 29-30 at Miami, Fla...in two games, Fields averaged 11.5 points and 9.5 rebounds...Fields recorded her second career double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds against No. 3 LSU...Fields followed that with a team-high 11 points and seven rebounds against Virginia Tech...she posted her third career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in the Cougars' win over Idaho, Feb. 27...Fields' other double-double was a 12-point, 12-rebound performance against Montana last season...she is the team's third leading scorer (7.9 points/game) and second-leading rebounder (6.0/game).

Cougar Net Notes: Last season, one conference game (Washington, 75-68, Jan. 25, 2002) was decided by fewer than 10 points, this season that number was five...the 12 turnovers WSU committed against Oregon State was a season-low...that marked the fewest turnovers since the team committed 10 against Michigan, Dec. 7...ten Cougars have hit double-digits in points in at least one game...in addition, 10 players have started at least one game...before the Dec. 14 Montana game, the opposition had shot no worse than 44.6 percent in the first six games...the Lady Griz shot 30.4 percent (21-of-69), a season-low by the opposition...the Cougars out-rebounded their opponents in seven games this season...last year the Cougars were out-rebounded in all but three games.

Cougars Break Losing Streak: Bianca McCall posted a game-high 20 points and Lindsey Egeland added 17 to lead the Washington State women's basketball team to a 67-64 win over the California Bears, Feb. 13.

The win snapped the Cougars' school record 45-game losing streak, which was the second longest in NCAA Division I history. It marked the first victory for the program since Nov. 29, 2001 when WSU defeated Gonzaga 80-72 at Pullman. It also halted a 34-game Pac-10 losing skid as the Cougars registered their first conference win since Feb. 24, 2001, a 74-59 triumph over, coincidentally, Cal in Pullman.

"When you get punched in the head 21 times it's fun to get that one blow back," said WSU coach Sherri Murrell, who recorded her first career coaching victory as a Cougar. "It's been two years for our players. It's been a long time coming and I am so proud of them.

"We've been way too close all season long. It is great for this program," added Murrell.

After concluding the opening 20 minutes with a 29-25 lead, WSU quickly opened up a 38-29 advantage at the 17:11 mark of the second half.

Cal scored 11 of the next 16 points to pull within 43-40 at the 12:56 mark. WSU extended its lead back to seven at 49-42 but a 9-2 Cal run brought the Bears back to 51-49 with 6:20 left. On three occasions Cal pulled to within one and finally took the lead at 58-57 courtesy of a Leigh Gregory bucket with 2:04 left.

But McCall immediately responded with a three-pointer that gave the Cougars a 60-58 lead.

"I was open," said McCall of her three-pointer. "I do work on the shot in practice. It was a big shot and I was ready to take it. I wanted the win."

McCall also added eight boards and was a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line.

The Bears tied it at 60 on a Kiki Williams' basket but an Egeland trey propelled WSU to a lead it would not relinquish at 63-60 with 1:15 left.

A pair of Williams' free throws brought Cal to within 63-62 but four free throws (two each by McCall and Egeland) gave the Cougars a five-point advantage at 67-62.

A bucket by Cal's Renee Wright sliced the Cougars' lead to 67-64 but WSU was able to run the clock out when in bounding the ball.

WSU shot 24-of-52 (46.2 percent) for the game including 12-of-24 in the second half. Cal was even better in the second half with a 14-of-25 (56 percent) performance but was 10-of-29 in the first half.

In addition, the Cougars were 14-of-18 from the line including 10-of-11 in the second half.

"We've been in this position too many times and came up short," said Egeland. "When we hit that 10-minute mark in the second half, we all looked at each other because we know that is the time when teams go on runs. We all said we are winning this game. We weren't panicking or anything. We were just ready to get it done."

A Loooong Holiday Weekend: Thanksgiving weekend turned out to be a little longer than WSU anticipated...the Cougars already had a long day of traveling in store for them, Sunday, Dec. 1 as they were returning to Pullman from Miami, Fla...that day was made longer when the plane bound for Pullman, which was scheduled to arrive in Pullman at 6 p.m. was unable to land in the city due to fog...the plane turned around and returned to Seattle, landing at 7:30 p.m...the airline arranged a bus for the Palouse-bound passengers, which departed Sea-Tac airport at 10:30 p.m...five hours later, at 3:30 a.m., the bus arrived at the Pullman-Moscow airport...in all, the Cougars' return trip from Miami lasted a total of 25 hours from its 5:30 a.m. (Eastern Time) departure from the Miami hotel to the arrival at the Pullman airport.

Cougars Add Three During Early Signing Period: WSU Coach Sherri Murrell signed three players - Vasha Adams, Adriane Ferguson and Nicole Stratton - to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period in November.

Ferguson, a 6-foot guard from Mead High School in Spokane, Wash., becomes the first player from the Greater Spokane League to choose WSU since 1985 (Lynda Clegg, Central Valley). Stratton is a 5-foot-11 guard from Coronado High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Adams is a 6-foot-1 forward from Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas.

Ferguson enters her senior season coming off consecutive All-GSL First Team selections. Her first team nod as a sophomore marked only the sixth time that a sophomore earned a first team selection in GSL history. Her 15.2 points per game average was the third best in the GSL last year. She also started for the Spokane Stars AAU team this past summer averaging 8.1 points a squad that compiled a 33-6 record.

Stratton, whose sister, Jessika, is a guard at Baylor University, earned an All-State Honorable Mention selection last year and was an all-league second team pick the past two years. Last year, Stratton led Coronado in points (14 per game), assists (six per game) and steals (five per game). Additionally, Stratton served as a torch-bearer for the Winter Olympics flame's journey to Salt Lake City.

Adams, who will transfer to WSU from Clarendon College, entered her sophomore season as the third ranked power forward in All-Star Girls Report's pre-season junior college player rankings. In addition, Adams was No. 34 in the publication's junior college overall player pre-season rankings.

Coaching Staff: Sherri Murrell, who coached the University of the Pacific to four consecutive winning seasons, begins her first season as head coach of the Cougars...while at Pacific, Murrell coached the Tigers to a 68-46 record including a 40-20 mark in Big West Conference play...the Tigers' 19-11 record in 2002 was the most wins by the program since 1995...assistant Mark Lewis brings 17 years of coaching experience to the program... Lewis arrives at the Palouse after serving as an assistant at Western Kentucky last season...prior to his time at WKU, Lewis spent five years (1996-2001) as an assistant at Arizona State...assistants Lisa Fisher and Christopher Holland come to Pullman after serving as assistants on Murrell's staff at the University of the Pacific during the 2001-02 season...prior to coming to Pacific, Fisher coached at Northeastern in Boston, Mass., where she was an assistant during the 2000-01 season...preceding her coaching at Northeastern, Fisher was at Portland State from 1996-2000, where she also worked with Murrell from 1996 to 1998... before his year at Pacific, Holland was at Arizona State, where he was a team manager of the women's basketball team for five years.

-wsucougars.com-
Washington State Cougars Women's Basketball
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