NCAA: Church member vs. church school
The first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament is a family affair, of sorts.
Sherri Coale, member of the Westside Church of Christ in Norman, Okla.,leads her University of Oklahoma Sooners against the Waves ofPepperdine University, a California school associated with churches ofChrist.
The church member’s squad takes on the church school Saturday in Denver.
Despite the church connection, Coale told reporters she knew “nothing”about Pepperdine, which earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney bywinning the West Coast Conference.
“I know it’s in beautiful, picturesque Malibu, California, and that’sabout it,” Coale said, according to the Oklahoman.
Saturday’s game will be the fourth meeting of the two teams and thefirst since the 2003-04 season. The Sooners hold a 2-1 advantage in theseries.
It’s likely to be an uphill battle for the No. 15 seeded Waves, makingtheir fourth trip to the NCAA’s “big dance.” Pepperdine has a losingrecord at 14-16 but made a Cinderella run to win the West CoastConference tournament, upsetting top-seeded Santa Clara.
The No. 2 seeded Sooners (29-4) handily defeated Baylor to claim theBig 12 Conference championship. Freshman Courtney Paris put up bignumbers for Oklahoma this season and is a candidate for National Playerof the Year.
Coale told the Oklahoman that Pepperdine’s top priority would be devising a plan against Paris.
“Courtney Paris is difficult to simulate,” she said. “I feel sure thatPepperdine is trying to figure out what they (will) do about her.”
When a local newspaper asked Pepperdine coach Julie Rousseau if shebelieved her team could pull another upset, she replied, “I’d betterbelieve.”
“We’re going to the big dance and we’re not just going to be wallflowers,” Rousseau said.
Universities associated with churches of Christ also earned spots inthe National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) nationaltournaments. Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City, will play inthe men’s tournament in Kansas City.
The women’s squads for Freed-Hardeman University, Henderson, Tenn.;Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, Texas; and Oklahoma Christianwill compete in the NAIA national tournament in Jackson, Tenn.