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Wildcats Halt Lions Home Streak at Seven

Dec. 29, 2007

Los Angeles, CA - Kansas State was crowned champions of the 2007 Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament with a 70-47 victory over LMU Saturday afternoon at Gersten Pavilion. The Lions (8-7) were denied a title in their second home tournament of the season by the Wildcats (7-5), who snap LMU's home winning streak at seven.

Senior Amanda DeCoud had 10 points and six assists to lead the Lions, who were held to 28.6% shooting from both the floor (18-for-63) and three-point range (4-for-14). The Lions sank 53.8% (7-for-13) from the line.

Sophomore Lisa Helmers and freshman Renahy Young each had seven points for the Lions. Senior Valerie Ogoke added her second straight double-digit rebounding game with a team-high 11 boards. Helmers and junior Jenna Sybesma (six points) were named to the All-Tournament team.

Tournament Most Valuable Player Marlies Gipson had her second straight double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Shalee Lehning added 13 points, eight rebounds, and six assists to earn All-Tournament honors. Jackie Stanley chipped in 11 points off the bench while Kimberly Dietz and Kari Kincaid each had nine points.

Kansas State shot 43.9% (29-for-66) overall after being above 50% for most of the first 30 minutes. They made 23.8% (5-for-21) from three-point range and 87.5% (7-for-8) at the line. The inside game was what propelled the Wildcats, who out-rebounded LMU 49-37 and scored 42 points in the paint to LMU's 24.

Less than 20 hours after completing an epic 95-90 double-overtime victory over Cal State Bakersfield, LMU found itself trailing 18-5 early. Kansas State took advantage of the sluggish Lions, using penetration off the dribble to make eight of its first nine shots. All five Wildcat starters scored during the fast start, with Kincaid's three-point play extending the lead to 21-5 before LMU Helmers hit a three-pointer that halted a mini 9-0 run.

The Wildcats used a combination of outside shooting and interior passing to exploit openings in the Lion defense. KSU repeatedly made the extra pass, posting nine assists on its first 14 baskets, including four by Dietz, who also added five points. Meanwhile, the Lion guards were doing their best to keep LMU close. Helmers knocked down two three-pointers early and Young converted a pair of three-point plays, the latter of which brought LMU back to 33-20 with 5:23 to go in the half.

Lehning and Gipson were the main beneficiaries of the Wildcats' hot shooting, scoring 10 points each in the first half on a combined 10-for-14 to take KSU into the break leading 41-23. KSU shot 54.8% (17-for-31) in the opening 20 minutes, compared to 25.8% (8-for-31) for the Lions.

The inside-outside combination of Gipson and Lehning was difficult for the Lions to stop as KSU increased its lead to as many as 31, 63-32, with 8:25 left. The Lions kept getting good looks but it would not be their day as they could not repeat the feat of winning their home tournament.

Earlier on Saturday in the Consolation Game, Arkansas-Little Rock defeated Cal State Bakersfield 69-54 to finish third.

LMU has 10 days off before it starts West Coast Conference play. The Lions travel to Portland on January 10 and Gonzaga on January 12.

All-Tournament Team
Marlies Gipson, Kansas State (MVP)
Shalee Kehning, Kansas State
Jenna Sybesma, LMU
Lisa Helmers, LMU
Kim Sitzmann, Arkansas-Little Rock
Christine Kepenekian, Cal State Bakersfield