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Defending WCC Champion and First Place Gonzaga Come to Town Thursday

Jan. 14, 2008

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IN A NUTSHELL: The University of San Diego women's basketball team (9-6, 0-1 West Coast) will welcome the West Coast Conference's defending champion and first place Gonzaga University Bulldogs to town on Thursday for the Toreros' WCC home opener. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the friendly confines of the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

LAST TIME OUT: Three players recorded double digits paced by Amber Sprague's team-high 17, but it wasn't enough as the University of San Diego women's basketball team dropped their West Coast Conference opener 80-62, to the University of San Francisco Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Gym. With the loss, the Toreros fall to 9-6 overall and 0-1 in the WCC. With the win, the Dons improve to 10-6 overall and 1-0 in the WCC. Sprague led the team with 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field to go along with 10 rebounds to lead the Toreros' offense. Both Kiva Herman and Morgan Henderson added in 11 points each. As a team, the Toreros hit 39 percent from the field and out rebounded the Dons 39-37. For the Dons, Nicolia Simmons led the team's offense with a game-high 23 points. Shay Rollins added in 18 points and Dominique Carter had 15 points to help lead the team to victory. The Dons hit 51 percent of the shots from the floor. Sprague hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Toreros a quick 4-0 lead, but the Dons responded with a 6-2 run to even the game up at 6-6 with 15:04 remaining. A 3-pointer by Carter gave the Dons the lead at 9-6 with 14:24 remaining, but the Toreros didn't allow the Dons to get to far ahead as they kept within six over the next several minutes. Then with the score at 14-12 in favor of USF, the Dons went on a 13-0 run to take complete control of the momentum for the half as they shot the light outs hitting on 58 percent of the shots in the frame. The Dons would go on to build their lead up to 19 at 48-29 going into the break. The Toreros could not recover in the second half as they two teams seemed to play even basketball in the second half which gave the Dons the WCC-opening victory.

A LOOK AHEAD: San Diego has a big week ahead of them as they open their home portion of the WCC schedule with Gonzaga on Thursday, followed by a red hot Portland team coming to town on Saturday. Saturday's game is scheduled or a 2 p.m. tip-off inside the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Gonzaga enters the game with a 11-6 overall record and sit on top of the WCC standings with a 2-0 mark after picking up wins over the Los Angeles based schools, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine this past week. The Zags hold a 22-19 edge of the Toreros in the all-time series between the two programs. In fact, GU is currently riding a 10-game winning streak against USD with the Toreros' last win in the series coming on Feb. 7, 2002, a 63-48 win in Spokane. The Zags are led by sophomore forward Heather Bowman, who averages 18.6 points per game to go along with 9.0 rebounds per game. There are two other GU players averaging in double figures with Jami Bjorklund putting up 10.5 ppg and Michelle Elliott averaging 11.2 points per game. The Zags are under the direction of eighth-year head coach Kelly Graves. During his tenure in Spokane, Graves has posted an overall record of 131-99.

SPRAGUE REACHES A MILESTONE: Junior center Amber Sprague became just this 10th player in the history of the program to surpass the 1,000 career-point total in Saturday's loss to San Francisco. She also has become just the third player to reach 1,000 points in three seasons joining the all-time leading scorer Susie Erpelding (1,510 points) and Debbie Theroux (1,015 points). With her 17 points, Sprague has moved her career total to 1,016 which moves her into ninth all-time in career points at USD. For the season, Sprague is averaging a team-best 17.3 points per game to go along with a team-best 7.9 rebounds per game.

HENDERSON FINDING HER GROOVE: Sophomore forward Morgan Henderson recorded 11 points in Saturday's loss to San Francisco, marking back-to-back games in which she has recorded double figures as she poured in 15 points in a win against UC Irvine on Jan. 6. This marks her sixth double digit performance of the season. Henderson has now moved her average up to 9.6 points per game to go along with 5.5 boards per game.

LOOKING FOR 100: San Diego head basketball coach Cindy Fisher is just two wins shy of earning her 100th career victory. Fisher, in her third year as the Toreros' head coach, currently boasts a 98-115 career-record over her eight seasons as a head coach between stints at the University of Wyoming and San Diego.

HERMAN HAS ANOTHER BIG GAME: With her 11 point performance against San Francisco on Saturday, junior forward Kiva Herman has now scored in double figures in five of the last six games and nine of the last 11 games. This is truly Herman's breakout season as she is the team's second leading scorer with a 12.8 points per game average and she has the second highest field goal percentage on the team at .470.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Many Toreros hold lofty spots in the West Coast Conference statistics. Amber Sprague is the league's second leading scorer with 17.9 points per game, is second in rebounds per game at 7.9 and is tied for second in blocked shots with 2.13 per game. Amanda Rego leads the league with 8.27 assists per contest, leads the league in steals per game at 2.67 and Morgan Henderson sports the league's second best free throw percentage at .865.

THURSDAY'S GAME LIVE ON TV: Thursday's game against Gonzaga University will be a live television broadcast on San Diego's Channel 4. This will be the second game this season on Channel 4, the first coming in a 68-53 win over Pacific back on Dec. 15. This will also be the second of three televised broadcasts for the Toreros this season, as the Jan. 31 game against Loyola Marymount will be aired live on ESPNU.

THE STREAK CONTINUES: With 13 more double digit scoring performances under her belt this season, junior center Amber Sprague extended her scoring streak to 65 consecutive games. In fact, Sprague has scored a minimum of four points in every game she has played in a Torero uniform. The San Diego, Calif., native has 50 career double-digit scoring performances in 66 games and after a season-high 30-point performance against UCLA and a 28-point outburst against UC Irvine, she now has 15 career 20-point or more outings. Sprague has scored 1,016 points during her current streak, averaging 15.4 ppg, and shooting .463 (407-for-879) from the floor and .865 (230-for-266) from the free throw line.

ACROSS THE NCAA'S: Amanda Rego is currently second in the nation in assists per game at 8.3, trailing only Claire Faucher from Portland State, who is averaging 9.0 assists per game, and Amber Sprague is No. 49 in the nation in blocks per game at 2.1.

FRESHMAN NO SLOUCHES: Coach Fisher said they were athletic and would contribute right away and she was right. Freshmen Sam Child and Brianna Estell have each seen significant time on the court with both getting the start in Saturday's loss to San Francisco. Child has been a regular in the starting line-up since the second game of the season and she has been a huge help as she averaged 8.7 points per game and has recorded double figures in seven games this season, including three of the last four games. Estell has also been a huge help for the Toreros, as she has come on strong as of late giving the Toreros another ball handler in the back court and playing outstanding defense. On the season, Estell is averaging 3.7 points per game and has racked up 25 assists, the second highest on the team.

REGO'S TRIPLE-DOUBLE: San Diego senior point guard Amanda Rego recorded the first triple-double in program history in a Nov. 11 win over Toledo. Rego posted 11 points, had a team-best 13 rebounds and a game-high 10 assists. Rego came close this past season at recording a triple-double in a game against Holy Cross as she had nine points, 13 assists and a program-record 10 steals in a win over the Crusaders in the opening game of the Surf N' Slam Tournament.

TOREROS TABBED AS THE WCC PRESEASON FAVORITE: San Diego was chosen as the favorite to claim the West Coast Conference women's basketball title, edging out defending conference champion Gonzaga in the 2007-08 WCC preseason coaches poll. The Toreros, who set a program record with 21 wins and hosted a WNIT contest for the first time last season, received four first place votes and totaled 58 overall points, while the Bulldogs garnered three first place votes, and received 55 total points to finish second in the annual coaches poll. Gonzaga, who is coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance was picked to finish second. Pepperdine came in third in the voting followed by Loyola Marymount at fourth. Saint Mary's was picked to finish fifth and San Francisco sixth. Santa Clara (seventh) and Portland (eighth) round out the preseason coaches poll.

MEET THE COACH: Head coach Cindy Fisher is entering her third season at the helm of the Toreros program. She was named the program's third head coach on April 19, 2005 after taking over for Kathy Marpe, who stepped down after directing the program for 25 years in 2005. In only her second season at the helm of the program, Fisher orchestrated the biggest turn around in school history, a 12-game improvement from 9-19 in the 2005-06 season to a 21-9 record in 2006-07 season. The turn around was the fourth best in the nation. Under her tutelage, the Toreros placed three players on the All-WCC lists highlighted by Amanda Rego being named the WCC Co-Player of the Year. Rego and Amber Sprague both took home first-team All-WCC honors and Morgan Henderson was named to the All-WCC Freshman team. For her efforts, Fisher was named the 2007 WCC Co-Coach of the Year. At Wyoming, Fisher's Cowgirl teams showed improvement in each of her five seasons, culminating with an 18-12 mark during the 2002-03 season. The 18 wins were the school's most victories since 1989-90. She also led the Cowgirls to their first postseason appearance since 1989-90 with a trip to the 2003 WNIT, where Wyoming notched a first-round win over Montana before falling in the second round.

THREE TOREROS OUT FOR THE SEASON: Junior guard Kelly Winther, sophomore forward Sara VanderHorst and redshirt freshman guard Hannah Morgenstern are all out for the season. Winther and VanderHorst will take a redshirt year. Winther had the second highest points-per-game average for the Toreros a year ago with 10.9 and she led the team in three-point shooting with a team-best 37 three-pointers made. VanderHorst saw limited action in 2006-07 as she scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in 16 games.

GAMETRACKER AVAILABLE: All San Diego women's basketball home games can be followed via Gametracker on the Toreros athletic web site at www.usdtoreros.com. Gametracker is a service of Online College Sports, the official web provider for San Diego athletics, and is a real time update of the action. Selected San Diego road games are also available via Gametracker. To see if Gametracker is available for a game, go to San Diego Events at the top-right of the home page. If Gametracker is available there will be a Gametracker link.