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Pacific Northwest WCC Foes Up Next For Women's Hoops

Feb. 19, 2007

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IN A NUTSHELL: The University of San Diego women's basketball team (20-6, 9-3 WCC) will look to run the table and win their last two games in hope of taking home a share of the regular-season WCC Championship. USD will travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on first-place Gonzaga on Thursday at 7 p.m., then head to Portland to take on the University of Portland on Saturday at 2 p.m.

LAST TIME OUT: The Saint Mary's College Gaels defeated the University of San Diego women's basketball team, 51-47, Saturday afternoon in a West Coast Conference game at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. With the loss, the Toreros fall to 20-6 overall and 9-3 in the WCC. With the win, the Gaels avoid a season sweep by the Toreros and move to 13-12 overall and 7-5 in the WCC. Amber Sprague scored a game-high 17 points to lead the USD offense on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. Amanda Rego recorded a game-high five assists and four steals. As a team, the Toreros were held to 33 percent shooting from the field and were out rebounded 41-30. In the first half, the Toreros jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead as Sabine Loewe recorded the first bucket and Alcha Strane capped the run with a three-pointer. SMC then answered with a 6-0 run sparked by an Eghosa Obaiza free-throw and capped with a Serena Benavente three-pointer. The two teams would then sea saw back and forth over majority of their first half with both teams taking their turn with the lead, until SMC was able to take a four-point lead going into the break. The second half again was a sea saw battle back and forth with the Toreros finally regaining the lead at 29-28 on a Kelly Winther jumper. SMC then used a 9-0 run to gain back the momentum of the game and an eight-point lead. The Toreros slowly chipped away at the lead and got to within four on a couple of occasions and eventually got to within two with under a minute to go. Kiva Herman then had an acrobatic shot that rimed out with 13 seconds remaining and the Gaels then hit a pair of free-throws to win the game. For the Gaels, Maija Lahde led the team with 15 points and Serena Benavente was the only other player in double figures with 13 points. The Gaels shot 40 percent from the floor as a team.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Gonzaga University enters the game with a 19-9 overall record and a league-leading 11-1 record in conference games after picking up a win over travel partner Portland this past weekend. The Zags hold the all-time series between the two at 21-19, including taking the first meeting between the two 85-80 in San Diego. The Bulldogs are led by Stephanie Hawk, who has a team-leading 14.9 points per game average to go along with a team-best 7.6 rebounds per game. Heather Boman is the next GU player averaging double figures at 13.0 ppg and Michelle Elliott is the last GU player averaging double figures at 10.1 ppg.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Portland enters the week with a 9-18 overall record and a 1-11 record in the WCC after dropping a contest to travel partner Gonzaga this past weekend. The Pilots hold a 27-20 all-time record against the Toreros, but USD claimed a 74-66 win in the first meeting this season in San Diego. The Pilots are led offensively by Laiken Dollente, who has a team-leading 15.6 points per game average. Rachel Warren is the only other Portland player averaging double figures at 10.6 ppg to go along with a team-best 7.7 rebounds per game.

NEW PROGRAM RECORD: The University of San Diego has set a new program record for single-season victories with 20, thanks to the win over Santa Clara University this past Thursday. The previous record of 17 wins happened twice, once during the 1989-90 season and the other in the 1999-2000 season. The 99-00 team was the last USD women's basketball team to make it into the postseason, as they won the conference tournament and earned the WCC's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: All USD home games, as well as select road games, will be streamed live via video on the athletics department website. Fans can watch all the action live from the comfort of their home by logging onto usdtoreros.com. Once on the home page, click the LIVE button on the top right of the page. Two former USD basketball standouts Paula Bott (play-by-play) and Susie Erpelding (color) will bring you all the action. The pair not only set USD records on the court but both earned the West Coast Conference Female Scholar Athlete of the Year award, the only two student-athletes in USD women's basketball history to receive such honors. This is a subscription service that will give you access to live video events of USD athletic teams, coaching interviews and much more. The cost for this service will be $6.95 per month or a yearly subscription can be purchased for $49.95.

SCENERIOS FOR WCC CHAMPIONSHIP/TOURNEY: The Toreros have already secured the No. 2 seed in the WCC Tournament and can not get the No. 1 seed, regardless of the outcome this upcoming weekend. USD does however still have a chance at taking home a share of the WCC regular-season championship for the first-time in program history. Here is how USD can win a share of the crown. USD must win their remaining two games against Gonzaga and Portland this week, and Gonzaga needs to lose to San Francisco on Saturday, then both GU and USD will have the same conference record, thus giving USD a share of the title. However, if USD defeats both opponents this weekend and Gonzaga defeats USF, then the Zags have won the championship. Should USD lose any one of these two remaining games, they will be eliminated from the conference championship race.

REGO AND THE ASSIST: Junior point guard Amanda Rego has already become the single-season assists leader at USD this season with her 197 assists, but with her four assists this Thursday, she has now moved into sixth place in the West Coast Conference single-game assists. Rego is also still leading the nation in assists per game at 7.6. Rego has also moved into fifth-all-time in career assists at 354. Rego is leading the WCC in steals at 2.77 per game. Rego has also set the new USD single-game record for assists with 14, and she has recorded double digit assists in 11 games this season.

SPRAGUE CONTINUES HOT PLAY: Sophomore forward Amber Sprague continues her hot play for the Toreros. This past week, the forward from San Diego averaged 14.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. In Thursday's win over Santa Clara she scored 12 points to go along with nine rebounds and in Saturday's loss, she scored a game-high 17 points.

A LOOK AHEAD: After this weekend's games, the Toreros will then travel back to Portland next week to compete in the WCC Tournament for a chance to earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The seven-day event will begin on Thursday with the time yet to be determined by this weekends games. USD will face the No. 7 seed in the first round. The No. 7 seed has yet to be determined.

HENDERSON COMING ON STRONG: Freshman Morgan Henderson has been one of the hottest Toreros on the court as of late. In three of the past four games, Henderson has recorded at least 15 points, including a career-high 16 in a win against Loyola Marymount two weeks ago. She then followed that up with back-to-back 15 point outbursts against Pepperdine and Santa Clara. In the game against SCU, the was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field, 1-1 from three point land and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe. On the season, Henderson is averaging 7.7 points per game and in WCC action she is the team's third best scoring option at 9.1 ppg.

MEET THE COACH: Head coach Cindy Fisher is entering her second 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. During her first season at USD, the Toreros showed remarkable improvement and were close in majority of their games. The Toreros did record a huge 15 point win over Santa Clara on the road and were close in games against Georgia Tech, Boise State and against Loyola Marymount in the first round of the WCC Championship Tournament. Fisher also helped guide Tiara Harris to a All-WCC selection and Kelly Winther to a All-WCC Freshman team selection. 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.

MORGENSTERN AND CARLSON TO REDSHIRT: San Diego freshman guard Hannah Morgenstern will redshirt the 2006-07 season after injuring her ACL. Morgenstern scored three points in a win against Cal State Northridge, and has made two more appearances this season. Erica Carlson, a 6-4 center from Tucson, Ariz., as yet to appear in a game for the Toreros this season and will make her Torero debut in the 2007-08 season as she recorvers from a shoulder injury.

TOREROS TABBED SIXTH IN WCC PRESEASON COACHES POLL: The University of San Diego women's basketball team was tabbed to finish sixth in the 2006-07 West Coast Conference preseason poll, as selected by the conference coaches. Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine were chosen as the favorites to claim the WCC women's basketball title with Gonzaga rounding out the top three. Santa Clara checked in at No. 4, Saint Mary's was selected fifth and the Toreros check in at No. 6. Rounding out the conferacne are San Francisco, who was picked seventh, and Portland was picked eighth, respectfully.

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