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Women's Hoops Prep for WNIT

March 13, 2007

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IN A NUTSHELL: The University of San Diego women's basketball team (21-8) will begin play in the Women's National Invitational Tournament on Thursday against UC Santa Barbara (17-13) inside the friendly confines of the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

LAST TIME OUT: The seventh-seeded University of San Francisco Dons (10-20) upset the second-seeded University of San Diego women's basketball team (21-8) in the first round of the West Coast Conference championships at the Chiles Center on the campus of the University of Portland. Amber Sprague led the Toreros in scoring as she scored a team-high 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Kelly Winther was the second of four USD players in double figures as she scored 15 points. Senior Sabine Loewe scored 13 points for USD on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and Amanda Rego scored 10 points and dished out a game-high eight assists. As a team, the Toreros shot 44.6 percent from the field and were out rebounded 40-31. The first couple of minutes were even with both teams taking their turn with the lead. Then with the score knotted at 7-7, the Dons went on a 13-2 run sparked by a Nykia Peace jumper and capped by a Dominique Carter jumper to give the Dons a 20-7 advantage. The Dons would eventually go on to build their lead up to 15 going into the break on a Breann Sitton last second jumper at the baseline. In the second half, the Toreros got things rolling as they opened the frame with a 12-6 run sparked by an Ashley Voisinet jumper and capped by a pair of Winther free-throws moving the score to 37-46. The Dons then responded with a 9-0 spurt to regain a 16-point advantage with 12:50 remaining. San Diego answered back with an 11-2 run sparked by a Loewe lay-up and capped by a Voisinet lay-up to pull the Toreros within seven at 50-57 with 7:57 remaining. The Toreros would then keep things under double digits over the next seven minute, but could not overcome the deficit as the Dons hit key free throws down the stretch to claim the 11-point upset win over the Toreros. For the Dons, Carter led the way with her game-high 23 points, followed by Shay Rollins who added 21 points. Nickie Warren added in 12 points and the final USF player in double figures was Peace, who had 10 points.

SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS: The Gauchos enter the contest with a 17-13 overall record and a second place finish in the Big West Conference. UCSB made it to the championship game of the Big West tournament, but fell to the conference regular-season champion UC Riverside 70-67. Jenna Green, who averages a team-best 16.5 ppg to go along with 7.2 rebounds per game, leads Santa Barbara offensively. Jessica Wilson (13.0 ppg) and Chisa Ononiwu (12.5 ppg) are the only other UCSB players averaging double figures.

REGO NAMED WCC CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Junior point guard Amanda Rego was named the West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Year along with Stephanie Hawk from Gonzaga. Rego and Hawk become the first Co-Player's of the Year in the history of the conference. Rego becomes the first player in the history of the USD program to take home this honor. Rego was the floor leader for the Toreros and paced the conference in both steals (2.75 spg) and assists per game (7.64 apg), leading the nation in the latter as well. This season, Rego has become the single-season assists leader at USD with her 214 assists. Rego has also moved into fifth-all-time at USD in career assists at 369. Rego has also set the new USD single-game record for assists with 14, and she has recorded double digit assists in 12 games this season.

Amber Sprague NAMED FIRST-TEAM ALL-WCC: Sophomore sensation Amber Sprague was the second USD player to be named to the first-team All-WCC, along with Amanda Rego. Sprague led the team in scoring at 14.6 ppg and rebounds at 8.1 rbg. Sprague has recorded six double-doubles on the season and scored a season-high 27 points in a win against Pacific on Dec. 12. Sprague was named the WCC Player of the Month for November after leading the Toreros to a perfect 5-0 record in the month. She has been named the WCC Player of the Week on two different occasions.

TOREROS VS. THE BIG WEST: San Diego had posted a 4-1 record against teams from the Big West Conference, including a 15-point win over conference champion UC Riverside. USD will look to improve upon that record with Thursday's game against UC Santa Barbara.

Cindy Fisher NAMED WCC CO-COACH OF THE YEAR: Second-Year head coach Cindy Fisher was named the WCC Co-Coach of the year along with Kelly Graves from Gonzaga. This marks only the second-time in the history of the WCC, that there has been a Co-Coach of the Year awarded. Fisher orchestrated the University of San Diego's biggest turn around in program history and guided the Toreros to a second place finish in the WCC along with the program's first 20-win season. In Fisher's first season, the Toreros finished 9-19, this season USD had a 12-game improvement to earn the league's best overall record. Under Fisher's tutelage, the Toreros have placed three players on the All-WCC lists, with Amanda Rego and Amber Sprague taking home first-team honors and Morgan Henderson being named to the All-WCC Freshman team.

HENDERSON NAMED TO ALL-WCC FRESHMAN TEAM: Freshman forward Morgan Henderson finished her impressive freshman campaign by being named to the All-WCC freshman team. Henderson has been a huge boost both offensively and defensively. Henderson averaged 8.3 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game overall and in conference action she as the team's third leading scorer at 10.2 ppg. Henderson was huge this past week for the Toreros as her career-high 28 points propelled USD to a win over Portland in the regular-season finale. Henderson recorded her first collegiate double-double in a heart-breaking loss to Pepperdine as he scored 15 points and pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds.

NEW PROGRAM RECORD: The University of San Diego has set a new program record for single-season victories with 21, thanks to the overtime win over the University of Portland the regular-season finale. 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.

HOME SWEET HOME: After playing the last four games on the road, USD finally gets to return to the friendly confines of the Jenny Craig Pavilion this week. San Diego is now 13-4, while playing on their home floor this season. The Toreros are playing superbly well at the JCP, as they hit 41 percent of their field goals, are out rebounding their opponents 635-593 and are holding opponents to 56 points per game, while they scorch the opposition with 57.7 points per game. USD will look to continue their hot play at home this week as they host UC Santa Barbara in the first-round of the WNIT.

TOREROS IN THE POSTSEASON: USD has never before played in the WNIT, only making two other postseason appearances to the NCAA tournament in 1993 and 2000. In both cases, the Toreros lost in the first round to post an overall record of 0-2 in the postseason. However, head coach Cindy Fisher is no stranger to the WNIT, posting a 1-1 record while coaching at the University of Wyoming.

BRAINS AND BASKETBALL: The University of San Diego's senior center Sabine Loewe was selected to the 2007 West Coast Conference Winter All-Academic women's basketball team. This marks the third time for her career she has taken home this honor. This season, Loewe is playing a big part in the best turnaround in program history, as the Toreros have improved from 9-19 a year ago, to 21-7 this season. Loewe has been serving as the team's starting center and is averaging 7.5 points per game to go along with 4.4 rebounds per game. While helping the Toreros to success on the court, Loewe has also been dominating inside of the classroom as well while working on her Master's degree in International Business and maintaining a 3.33 GPA.

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.