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Centenary College On Tap For Aztec Women's Basketball Opener Friday

The Aztecs and head coach Jim Tomey open their season at home for the second straight season.
The Aztecs and head coach Jim Tomey open their season at home for the second straight season.

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Nov. 20, 2002

SAN DIEGO -

San Diego State Officially Kicks Off Its 2002-03 Season Friday Versus Centenary
After splitting its pair of exhibition games, San Diego State officially opens the 2002-03 season with a non-conference game against Centenary College of Louisiana this Friday, Nov. 22, at 7:05 p.m. at Cox Arena.

The game with the Ladies marks a short stay at home for the Aztecs, as they travel to the Bay Area for another non-conference contest with St. Mary's College Monday. The team will then head to Fresno for Thanksgiving and the four-team Fresno State Classic, Nov. 29-30.

Centenary, meanwhile, is coming off a loss in its only exhibition of the season this past Monday, falling to Czech team TJ Sokol, 68-63. The Ladies' game with the Aztecs is the first of three for Centenary in the state of California, as they will also travel to Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, Nov. 24-25.

Doing The Splits:
For the fourth year in a row, the San Diego State women's basketball team split its two-game exhibition schedule after falling to the West Coast All-Stars, 74-70, Monday at Cox Arena. The Aztecs, who claimed a 72-65 win over Czech team Strakonice in their first exhibition, moved to 1-1 overall, while the All-Stars rounded out their six-game schedule with a 2-4 record.

Aztec freshman Amber Fouse (Compton, Calif.) led the way with a team-high 20 points, while senior Valencia Howard (Richmond, Calif.) registered 15 points. Freshman Ashlee Dunlap (Los Angeles, Calif.) was the only player to reach double-figures in rebounds, grabbing 14 boards, including 10 on the defensive side.

San Diego State came out strong in the first half, taking the early lead at 4-0, thanks to lay-ups by Veronica Shaw (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Nicolette McCartny (Chicago, Ill.). Senior Jamey Cox (Waterloo, Iowa) buried three, three-pointers in the first 20 minutes helping the Aztecs maintain their momentum for the duration of the first half, leading 35-28 going into the locker room.

SDSU did not relinquish its lead until five minutes into the second half, when All-Star Nicky McCrimmon gave her team its first lead with a lay-up at 40-39. West Coast's defense held Cox scoreless in the second half, but the Aztecs managed to regain the lead until All-Star Tanisha Johnson buried a her team's only three-pointer of the game with 50 seconds remaining the score tied at 67.

The Aztecs then committed two costly turnovers as McCrimmon scored five straight points to bring her squad's lead up to 72-67. Fouse made a late three-pointer to make it close, but two more free throws secured the All-Stars' 74-70 victory.

The West Coast All-Stars were led by McCrimmon's 30 points. McCrimmon, who plays for the WNBA's L.A. Sparks, was helped offensively by Johnson, who tallied 24 points.

Exhibitions - They're A Wrap
With senior Jamey Cox held scoreless in the second half of the team's exhibition with the West Coast All-Stars, San Diego State got a key performance from freshman guard Amber Fouse. Fouse matched Cox's point output from the first exhibition game, scoring 20 points, including 11 in the second half ... Fouse's classmate Ashlee Dunlap also reached double-figures in a different category - rebounds. Dunlap had a game-high 14 boards, more than tripling her total from the team's first game of four rebounds ... Aztec senior Ashonda Williams (Crockett, Calif.) and freshman Tami Garnett (Arlington, Texas) both made their season debuts versus the All-Stars, as 10 of the team's 15 players saw action in the two exhibition contests ... Jamey Cox led the team in scoring during the exhibition games, averaging 14.5 ppg, followed by senior Valencia Howard's 14.0 ppg and Fouse's 13.5 ppg.

Ash Is Back
After suffering a dislocated right shoulder in pre-season workouts October 7, Aztec senior Ashonda Williams returned to the floor against the West Coast All-Stars on Monday. Williams played nine minutes and scoring seven points, including one three-pointer.

Williams is a valuable part of the SDSU front court as one of the team's three returning starters, averaging 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds a year ago in her first season on the Mesa.

A New Crew
On April 9, 2002, Jim Tomey was hired as the seventh head coach in program history. A former SDSU men's assistant (1999-2002), Tomey made a name for himself in San Diego as the head coach of boys' prep powerhouse University of San Diego High School from 1989-99. Tomey, who enters his first year as a head coach on the collegiate level, spent the summer putting together a balanced coaching staff, which now includes assistants Matt Hart, Nicole Anderson and Jennifer Gross.

Aztec Debut
If history repeats itself Friday in the team's opener with Centenary, the Aztecs should usher in the Jim Tomey era with a victory. Five of the six previous SDSU head coaches have won in their Aztec debuts with the only exception being Beth Burns, who fell to Alcorn State, 48-67, in 1989.

Other Newbie Coaching Notes
- Jim Tomey will look to buck the trend for first-year women's basketball head coaches at San Diego State. Only one of the program's previous six coaches have had winning records in their rookie campaigns. Earnest Riggins (1984-89) led the Aztecs to a 24-6 record in 1983-84.

- SDSU is not the only Mountain West Conference school to have a new head coach at the helm this season. Colorado State's Chris Denker enters his first season in Fort Collins, while two other conference coaches, Ardie McInelly (Air Force) and Jeff Judkins (BYU), both begin their sophomore campaigns.

- Of San Diego State's 13 other non-conference opponents, four will feature first-year head coaches. At the Fresno tournament in late November, three of the four teams have first-year head coaches, including Tomey, Butler's Beth Couture and Fresno State's Stacy Johnson-Klein. Creighton (Dec. 22) and CSU Northridge (Dec. 28) also both have first-year head coaches.

Aztecs In Openers
For the second straight year and just the 10th time in program history, the San Diego State women's basketball team will open its season at home. The Aztecs are 7-2 overall when they kick-off their season at home, while they are 22-4 in home-openers. SDSU has not been as fortunate in season-openers, carrying a 15-11 record since the program began in 1976-77.

In the past five years, the team has won four of five home openers, but on the flip side, is 2-3 in season-openers.

Scouting The Centenary Ladies
Coming off a loss in its only exhibition this season, the Centenary College Ladies open their 2002-03 season on a three-game swing to the West Coast. Under head coach David Winkler, Centenary was 9-19 a year ago after going winless in its first two seasons of NCAA Division I play in 1999-2000 (0-28) and 2000-01 (0-27).

In the team's exhibition game this year, the Ladies fell to Czech team TJ Sokol, 68-63, Monday in Shreveport, La. Four players reached double-figures in scoring in a losing effort, including Alexis Pettway, who poured in a team-high 15 points. Pettway, a junior forward, was the team's leading scorer in 2001-02, averaging 12.8 points and 7.7 rebounds. Fellow returnee, junior guard Julie Danieles, also averaged in double-figures with 10 points per game.

Friday's meeting with Centenary will be the first for the two schools.

First-Timers/Old Friends
Centenary will actually be one of only two first-time opponents this season for the Aztecs, with the other being American University on December 19. SDSU could also face Butler for the first time at Fresno State next weekend.

Other than the two, first-time opponents, the Aztecs will be restoring its rivalries with a number of familiar foes. The last and only time SDSU faced St. Mary's was in 1990, while the same can be said about Murray State, which fell to the Aztecs back in 1989. Games with UC Irvine (last meeting 1991) and cross-town rival University of San Diego (1996) highlight this season's reunions, as does the December 28, game versus Cal State Northridge, marking the first time the two sides have meet in a decade (1992).

Going With The Guards - Line-Up Notes
The Aztecs are expected to start three guards for the third straight time, including senior Jamey Cox, sophomore Heather Wolf (Stayton, Ore.) and freshman Veronica Shaw .... freshman forward Ashlee Dunlap and junior forward/center Nicolette McCartny should round out the starting line-up on the posts ... the projected starting line-up includes all four class levels, while all five players hail from different states (Arizona, California, Iowa, Illinois and Oregon) ... sophomore Maggie Sauls (left knee) and freshman Michelle Strawberry (right knee) are not expected to see action in Friday's game.

In The Books
The team's top returnee in 2002-03, senior Jamey Cox is close to making her way into elite company in Aztec basketball history. The 5-7 guard needs just 69 points to reach the 1,000-point plateau for her career. She would become the 16th SDSU player to reach the milestone mark and the first to do so since Jodi Nowlin-Tres (1994-97).

Cox is second all-time in career three-point field goals with 172, trailing only Falisha Wright (1992-95), who tallied 206 during her career. The senior is ninth in career assists (291) and has led the team in scoring in two of her three seasons on the Mesa.

Mark It On Your Calendar
This season the Aztecs will stick close to home for almost all of their pre-conference schedule, taking just one trip outside of the Golden State on January 11, at Portland State. Overall, only four of the 12 non-MWC teams appeared on the team's schedule a year ago.

SDSU will play host to 13 home games at Cox Arena, which includes two doubleheader days with the men's team, scheduled for December 28 and January 18.

Back To Cox ... Arena That Is
Two SDSU women's basketball games, originally scheduled for Peterson Gym, have been moved back across the street to Cox Arena. The venue change will affect the Aztecs' games for the 2002-03 season versus Brigham Young (Jan. 23) and the University of Utah (Jan. 25). Game times will remain the same.

The two Mountain West Conference games had been moved to Peterson Gym to help accommodate festivities for the upcoming Super Bowl, slated for Sunday, Jan. 26, 2003, in San Diego, Calif.

Aztecs Picked To Finish Seventh In The MWC
For the third consecutive season, San Diego State has been picked to finish seventh by the Mountain West Conference media in the league's preseason poll.

BYU received eight of the 16 first-place votes, becoming the third different school to be picked to win the MWC title in as many years.

The media has correctly picked the regular season conference winner in each of the previous three polls, with Colorado State earning the nod in 2001-02, and Utah claiming the title in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.

Sign On The Dotted Line
San Diego State women's basketball head coach Jim Tomey announced the signings Nov. 14, of two high school seniors to national letters of intent. Guards Michelle Elliott (Pasco, Wash.) and Courtney Fritz (Newberg, Ore.) will join the Aztecs in the fall of 2003.

"With the two players that we signed, we feel that we've really added to the basketball I.Q. of our program," Tomey said. "We signed two girls who have a great feel for how to play the game and their greatest attribute is their ability to strengthen and bond the group that is out on the floor - they're leaders.

"I feel terrific about them both as people and players. They are the kind of student-athletes that we want to bring into San Diego State to help us build this program."

Local Connections
Aztec assistant coaches Nicole Anderson and Jennifer Gross are both San Diego natives. Anderson played at La Jolla High School before starring at UCLA from 1989-93, while Gross earned all-state honors at University City High School, before moving on to UC Davis (1993-97). Anderson (Francis Parker, USD) and Gross (University City) later returned to San Diego to coach on the prep level, prior to taking their current jobs at SDSU.

San Diego State's other assistant coach Matt Hart, meanwhile, has spent his entire coaching career in the Southern California area, serving as a Division I men's assistant coach at Long Beach State and USC, in addition to a pair of head coaching jobs at Bishop Amat and St. John Bosco High Schools.

The Cast
The 2002-03 SDSU roster includes five seniors, one junior, two sophomores and seven freshmen. The seven freshmen are the program's most since the 1983-84 team, which opened the season with nine freshmen.

While this year's squad includes five seniors, only two, Jamey Cox and Andrea Kiesling (Helena, Mont.), have played all three of their previous collegiate seasons at San Diego State.

The Returnees
- Jamey Cox (5-7, Sr., G) - Three-year starter at guard ... played in 82 career games, the most of any Aztec on this year's roster ... led the Aztecs in scoring two of her three seasons ... scored in double-figures in 49 of 82 games ... has 931 career points and would become the 16th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau ... second all-time in career three-point field goals (172) and ninth in assists (291).

- Valencia Howard (6-1, Sr., F) - In her second year with the Aztecs after transferring from Contra Costa Community College in the Bay Area ... appeared in 27 games a year ago, making seven starts ... averaged 3.8 ppg and 3.9 rpg ... SDSU's top rebounder in six games ... one of five Aztecs named to the MWC all-academic team.

- Andrea Kiesling (6-3, Sr., C) - Played in 28 career games ... limited by injuries most of her stay at SDSU ... one of just two of the team's five seniors to have played all three of her previous collegiate seasons at San Diego State ... appeared in seven games in 2001-02, averaging 1.1 ppg and 0.7 rpg ... one of the team's tallest players at 6-3, along with freshmen Tami Garnett and Megan Bryant.

- Tynisha King (5-10, Sr., F) - Begins third year at SDSU (sat out 2000-01 under NCAA transfer rules) ... played in five games in 2001-02, averaging 1.0 ppg ... the oldest player on this year's squad, who is a vocal team leader on and off the court.

- Nicolette McCartny (6-2, Jr., F/C) - Second on the team in career games played with 50, which includes 24 starts ... made 11 starts a year ago, fifth-most on the team ... started at both center and forward, earning starting roles in seven of the final eight games ... averaged 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds as a sophomore, missing first eight weeks with a severe ankle sprain.

- Maggie Sauls (5-9, So., G) - Recovering from off-season knee surgery, after missing most of her freshman campaign with a knee injury ... appeared in nine games, scoring six points in 19 minutes.

- Ashonda Williams (6-0, Sr., F) - Returning starter from a year ago, who averaged 7.5 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game ... scored in double-figures 11 times, leading the team in scoring in eight games ... a threat from beyond the arc, tallying 35 three-point field goals in her first season with the Aztecs ... appeared in all 28 games, starting 22 ... recovering from a dislocated right shoulder, suffered in pre-season workouts, October 7 ... played in the team's final exhibition versus the West Coast All-Stars.

- Heather Wolf (5-6, So., G) - Appeared in 17 games before missing the final seven with an ankle injury ... a good ball handler at the point guard position, making two starts as a freshman in 2001-02 ... served as the first guard off the bench, averaging 1.8 points.

The Newcomers
- Megan Bryant (6-3, Fr., C) - One of three players from Texas ... prepped at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, earning all-district honors three straight years ... McDonald's HS All-America nominee ... averaged 8.8 points and five rebounds a game.

- Ashlee Dunlap (6-1, Fr., F) - A proven scorer out of Fairfax High School in Los Angeles ... flexible player who can shoot from the inside or outside ... three-time all-city selection and league MVP as a junior ... averaged 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists per game.

- Amber Fouse (5-7, Fr., G) - Played at two-time national champion Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Calif. ... NHS won state title twice ... led team to state finals as a senior, finishing with a 27-4 record and a No. 14 ranking ... averaged 9.0 ppg and 90 percent from the free throw line ... one of the team's best passers, who will see time at point guard.

- Tami Garnett (6-3, Fr., C) - One of three Aztecs at 6-3 ... played at Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas ... McDonald's HS All-America team nominee ... four-time letterwinner in cross country and track ... an accomplished violinist.

-Veronica Shaw (5-7, Fr., G) - Played at Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix ... led high school to the 5A state title as a senior ... all-Tribune 5A player of the year ... honorable mention Street & Smith's All-American ... averaged 16.5 points, 6.2 assists and 7.7 steals.

- Michelle Strawberry (5-10, Fr., G) - One of the team's most highly rated recruits ... 38th-ranked wing by All-Star Girls Report ... first team all-CIF, all-county and all-league out of Centennial High School in Corona, Calif. ... averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as a senior ... recovering from off-season knee surgery.

- Ashley White (6-1, Fr., F) - Averaged 11 points and eight rebounds at Ayala High School ... team was four-time league champs ... all-league and all-CIF selection.

Key Points For SDSU In 2002-03
- Offense - With the loss of two of the team's top three scorers from a year ago, the Aztecs will look for help to support senior Jamey Cox, who has led SDSU in scoring in two of the last three seasons. The team, however, returns its three-point threat from a year ago in Cox and Ashonda Williams, who both ranked in the MWC top 10 in three-point field goals.

- Defense - The Aztecs proved to have one of the top defenses in the MWC last season. SDSU ranked third overall and second in league games in steals, reaching double-figures in that category 13 times ... opponents only shot 40 percent or better from the field 12 times in 28 games ... the Aztecs held 10 of their final 20 opponents under 60 points.

- At the line - The Aztecs have struggled at the line in recent years, shooting just 65 percent in 2001-02. Part of that figure, however, can be attributed to the fact that SDSU took almost 200 less foul shots than its opponents (438-623).