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Lions Open 2008 in Pacific Northwest

Jan. 7, 2008

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With 2007 a mere memory, LMU shifts its focus to the West Coast Conference schedule, which gets underway this week in the Pacific Northwest. The Lions make their final regular season trip out of the state with Thursday's visit to Portland, followed by Saturday's journey to Gonzaga.

Follow The Lions Live On The Web!
Angela Kiel and Patrick Duggan return as the voices of Lion's women's basketball on Lions All-Access this season. For the fourth straight season, all LMU women's basketball games will be broadcast live on www.LMULions.com.
Loyola Marymount University, in conjunction with Stretch Internet, is proud to present, FREE, live audio broadcasts over the World Wide Web on www.LMULions.com. Just click on the "Listen" or "Archive" link next to the game of your choice (you will be automatically directed to download QuickTime if it's not yet installed on your computer). All broadcasts will be archived within 72 hours of their original airing and will include both the pre-game and post-game shows.
Thursday's conference opener at Portland will be simulcast live on KXLU 88.9 FM.

Media Guide
The 2007-08 LMU women's basketball media guide is available for download at www.lmulions.com. Copies may also be purchased for $15 from the LMU Media Relations Office.

LMULions.com Gets Facelift
Be sure to visit www.LMULions.com for all the up-to-date information on the Lions. The site recently underwent an overhaul and visual upgrade so check out the new-look LMULions.com. The site also features player diaries and photographs from LMU's December trip to Washington, D.C.

Wilhoit Closing in on 300
Already the winningest coach in LMU women's basketball history, Head Coach Julie Wilhoit is closing in on 300 victories in her 20-year head coaching career. With 296 wins, Wilhoit has a shot at reaching 300 sometime in January. Her breakdown includes 88 wins in five seasons at IUPUI, 33 wins in two years at Pitt-Bradford, and 175 wins in the last 13 seasons at LMU.

About Portland (10-5)
Portland has won three in a row and seven of its last 10 after a pair of road wins to close out 2007. On December 28, the Pilots visited Pacific, coming away with an 84-64 victory. Laiken Dollente had a game-high 24 points to lead four UP players in double figures. Kendra Morris had 11 points and Rachel Warren (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Laura Thomas (10 points, 10 rebounds) added double-doubles. Dollente kept at it two days later at Sacramento State with a game-high 16 points in UP's 74-61 win. Warren posted another double-double with 16 points and 13 boards, Allyson Sievers contributed 12 points, and Meagan Bermingham chipped in 10 off the bench.
UP brings one of the top defenses in the WCC, generating 11.2 steals per game. They are also tops in free throw percentage at 76.4%. Dollente leads the offense with 15.9 ppg; Warren is second at 10.6 ppg along with a team-high 7.1 rpg.
Head Coach Jim Sollars is in his 22nd season at Portland, posting a record of 295-323. He is 472-405 in 32 seasons as a head coach overall. Last year, the Pilots went 10-20, placing eighth in the WCC with a 2-12 mark. They return 12 letterwinners and four starters.
LMU has won the last nine meetings against Portland but trails the all-time series 23-18. The Lions have also won four in a row at the Chiles Center, including last season's 74-52 triumph.

About Gonzaga (9-6)
Gonzaga saw its two-game winning streak snapped on December 31 at Utah Valley State with a 94-73 loss. Vivian Frieson had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs, who also got 16 points from Jami Bjorklund, 11 from Tiffanie Shives, and 10 from Courtney Vandersloot. The Zags made the long trip to Philadelphia on Thursday to face Saint Joseph's, recovering for a 67-43 victory behind 14 points from Heather Bowman and 10 each from Frieson and Michelle Elliott.
Bowman averages 20.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game to lead four Bulldogs in double figures. Bjorklund (11.1 ppg), Elliott (10.1 ppg) and Frieson (10.0 ppg) help plant the Zags as the top-scoring team in the conference at 76.3 ppg. They also share the wealth with a WCC-high 18.5 apg.
Kelly Graves is 129-99 in eight seasons in Spokane and 195-125 in 11 years as a head coach. The Zags went 24-10 in 2006-07, winning the WCC regular season and tournament titles with a 13-1 conference record. They fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Middle Tennessee State. Seven letterwinners and three starters return.
The Lions and Bulldogs squared off three times last season, with Gonzaga winning all three to take a 22-21 lead in the all-time series. GU's 64-47 victory over LMU in the WCC Championship Game last March was Gonzaga's fourth consecutive win over the Lions and sixth in the last seven contests. LMU has not won in Spokane since 2002, dropping five straight.

Last Week Recap: LMU Places Second at Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament
The second incarnation of the LMU/Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament brought excitement to Gersten Pavilion over the Winter Break. The first day's play saw Kansas State defeat Arkansas-Little Rock 52-40 in the opener to advance to the championship game. The Wildcats would have a long wait before their opponent was determined as LMU and Cal State Bakersfield waged a duel for the ages. The Lions started well, jumping out to a 13-2 lead by making six of their first eight shots. The Roadrunners recovered and the teams traded shots in a game that featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes. CSUB led 64-61 with 2:21 remaining in regulation before junior Jenna Sybesma, who had never attempted a three-pointer in her three seasons at LMU, calmly knocked down a triple to tie the game. Neither team scored again as the game went into overtime. LMU opened the first OT with a 6-1 run, only to see Bakersfield come back to tie it again when Christine Kepenekian stole an inbounds pass with seven seconds left and feed Ke'Airra Jones, who sank a baseline jumper as time expired to send the game into a second OT. LMU again opened up a five-point lead in the second OT but the Roadrunners again came back to tie. Freshman Renahy Young untied it with a three-point play and the Roadrunners had one last chance but missed a breakaway layup when they were down two as LMU celebrated a 95-90 victory. Sybesma led five LMU players in double figures with career-highs of 29 points and 14 rebounds for her first career double-double. Senior Amanda DeCoud (16 points, eight assists), sophomore Lisa Helmers (16 points), Young (11 points), and junior Cassady Moore (10 points) also reached double figures while senior Valerie Ogoke grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds.
The excitement and drama from Friday's play was absent on Saturday as the exhausted Lions and Roadrunners could not keep up with their rested opponents. UALR claimed third place with a 69-54 victory over CSUB in the consolation game while Kansas State took home the tournament title with a 70-47 win over the Lions. DeCoud had 10 points and six assists to lead LMU while Sybesma and Helmers earned All-Tournament honors.

An Historic Night
Fans in attendance at LMU's victory over Cal State Bakersfield witnessed one of the greatest games in program history. In addition to being the first double-overtime game LMU has ever played, the teams and individuals combined to feature on several records lists. Among them are:
• LMU's 95 points are tied for the third-most in program history.
• LMU's 60 rebounds were the sixth-most in a game ever.
Jenna Sybesma's 29 points tied for the second-most by a junior and she came one free throw away from LMU's 10th 30-point performance.
• Senior Valerie Ogoke's 18 rebounds tied for the second-most in a game and were the most ever by an LMU senior. They were also the most by a WCC player this season.
• The 185 points scored by both teams was the third-highest combination ever, trailing only the 190 points against UC Riverside on December 1, 1981 (LMU 91, UCR 99) and the 188 at San Diego on February 21, 1991 (LMU 95, USD 93, OT).

Winning Non-Conference Slate
With an 8-7 record through the non-conference schedule, LMU posted its second consecutive winning season outside of WCC play. Under Coach Wilhoit, LMU has recorded a winning non-conference record seven times, including six of the last eight years.

Monsters on the Boards
One noticeable difference between the 2007-08 Lions and their predecessors is evident in the rebounding category. Last season, LMU averaged 37 rebounds a game and a shade under 13 offensive rebounds a game. Already this season they have bumped those numbers up to 41.6 total (second in the WCC) and 14.3 offensive rebounds per game. The Lions have controlled the glass in eight games, posting a 6-2 record in those contests.
A big reason for the increase has been the play of senior Valerie Ogoke and redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans. The duo is combining for 13.7 rebounds per game, and each ranks in the conference's top 20. Ogoke is first at 8.4 rpg with Evans tied for 14th at 5.3. But rebounding is a team effort and the Lions have seven players averaging 3.0 rebounds or more per game.

Oh, Mandy
The cog that keeps the Lion offense and defense rolling continues to be senior Amanda DeCoud.DeCoud has led the Lions in scoring a team-high four times and is the top scorer overall at 10.7 ppg. She is also averaging team-highs of 4.7 assists (third in the WCC), 2.7 steals (first in the WCC), and 32.1 minutes to go along with 3.3 rebounds per game.
DeCoud has scored in double figures in a team-high eight games, including a career-high 21 against Cal Poly. True to her role as a point guard, she dished five or more assists in a game nine times, including a career-high eight twice.
The reigning WCC Defender of the Year showed her all-around game at the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament, averaging 10.0 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 steals, and 3.0 rebounds to take home MVP honors.
DeCoud is 15th in the conference in scoring, fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.48) and 14th in free throw percentage to rank among the leaders in five categories. She continues to climb the LMU career charts, currently in fifth place in both steals (207) and assists (304).

The Young and Restless
The hottest player on LMU's roster right now has to be freshman Renahy Young, who recorded back-to-back 23-point outings in which she shot 70% from the floor against Fresno State and Cal Poly. Young entered that week averaging 6.3 ppg but exploded in those games for LMU season-highs. Although she only scored five points vs. UC Irvine, she showed the ability to adjust to the attention by dishing a career-high five assists.
Young is third on the team in scoring at 8.9 ppg (28th in the WCC) and third in free throws attempted. She has shown her aggressiveness from the get-go, getting to the line 53 times.
Young has reached double figures in scoring four times, including 11 in her collegiate debut at Boise State.

Most Val-uable
Senior Valerie Ogoke is breaking out of the shadows of the departed Ashlee Dunlap and Jennifer Hall. Given an increased role in the guard-oriented Lion offense, Ogoke is averaging a near-double-double of 7.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while shooting 43.0% from the field, third on the team. She has five double-digit rebounding outings, including an LMU junior record and career-high 18 boards against Cal State Bakersfield, and two double-doubles. Ogoke also leads the Lions in blocked shots with 27 and is fourth all-time at LMU with 122 career blocks.
Ogoke was a key component of the Lions' wins at the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament, averaging 10.0 ppg and 9.5 rpg, including a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game.Ogoke had one of the finest all-around games by a Lion this season against UC Irvine. She went 5-for-9 from the floor, scoring 10 points to go along with eight rebounds, six steals, four blocks, and two assists in 30 minutes.
Ogoke had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes in the season opener at Boise State. She equaled her career-high with 12 rebounds against UCSB.
Ogoke is first in the WCC in both total and offensive rebounds per game (3.73), eighth in defensive rebounds (4.36), and is fifth in blocked shots (1.80 per game).

Helmers Hits Threes
If you're looking for the biggest jump in scoring average from last season, that achievement belongs to sophomore Lisa Helmers. After averaging 1.5 ppg in 25 appearances off the bench as a freshman, Helmers is one of two players to start all 15 games thus far and is averaging 8.5 ppg. She is a certifiable threat from downtown, making a team-high 33 three-pointers, tenth-most in a single season at LMU. She is third in the WCC in makes per game (2.20) and 13th in 3-point percentage (31.7%).
After back-to-back nine point outings to start the season tied for her career-high, she topped it with 12 points vs. UC Santa Barbara, followed it with 12 more against Jackson State, and continued her roll with 16 points in the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament final. She led the Lions in scoring in both games at the tournament, averaging 14.0 ppg and sinking eight treys.
Helmers tied her career-high with 16 points, including 14 in the second half and overtimes, against Cal State Bakersfield, earning All-Tournament honors.

(Sometime) Bench Warrior
Junior Jenna Sybesma was settling into a comfortable rhythm as the first post player off the bench, parlaying that into a starting role for the last six of the last seven games. After a slow start in which she shot 3-for-10 and scored a combined six points in the season's first two games, Sybesma broke out for 98 points on 59% shooting over the next nine contests. She is tied for second with six games of double-digit scoring.
Sybesma's streak started at Long Beach State when she had career-highs of 13 points and four steals in 22 minutes. She also had nine points in 15 minutes against Jackson State and 10 points (on 5-for-7 from the floor) at #12 Cal. She topped all of those with a new career-high of 19 points, six rebounds, and three assists at NAU. Sybesma carried the Lions that game, scoring 15 of her points after halftime, including 13 of LMU's 15 during one 10-minute stretch. She followed that with 19 more points in the win over Fresno State.
Sybesma exploded at the Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament, scoring a career- and LMU season-high 29 points in the semifinal vs. Cal State Bakersfield. Sybesma was 11-for-20 from the floor and tied the game in regulation with her first career three-pointer. She also added a career-high 14 rebounds for her first double-double at LMU. Her efforts earned her a place on the All-Tournament Team.
Overall, she is second on the team at 9.7 points (tied for 19th in the conference) and adds 4.4 rebounds in 20.7 mpg. She is fifth in the WCC in field goal percentage at 53.0%.

New Kid on the Block
Redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans has made the most of her opportunities after sitting out last season. Now coming off the bench after starting eight of the first nine games, Evans is second on the team in rebounding and blocked shots at 5.3 rpg and 0.9 bpg (both ranking among the WCC leaders) while adding 2.5 ppg in just 15.9 minutes a game. Evans has shown aggressiveness pursuing the boards, with four games of double-digit rebounds.
In her collegiate debut at Boise State, Evans tied for the game-high with 10 rebounds in just 16 minutes off the bench. That was enough to earn her first career start at UNLV. She responded with 12 boards and her second straight six-point outing. She had back-to-back 11-rebound games at the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament.

Gimme Moore
Junior Cassady Moore got off to a fast start, putting up back-to-back 12 point outings in the first two games. A knee injury sidelined her for the next five contests and she has been slow to regain form. At the time of her injury, Moore was leading the Lions in scoring (12.0 ppg) and assists (3.5 per game) while pulling down 3.5 rebounds per game and shooting 45.0%. Against Cal State Bakersfield, Moore had her first double-digit scoring game since the opening week with 10 points.

Bench Warrior (Part II)
Another in the endless line of sophomore guards making an impact is Kavita Goss. After spraining her ankle in the final practice before the exhibition games, Goss tied her career-high with nine points at Long Beach State, then tied it again with a solid 4-for-7 effort in the Ayres Hotel Tournament title game. At #12 Cal, Goss came off the bench for a career-high 12 points to lead all Lion scorers, shooting 50% from both the floor and three-point range. Goss was a bright spot at Georgetown, scoring 14 first-half points and finishing with a career-high 17 points on five three-pointers.
She has raised her per-game average to 5.2 points and is second on the team with 16 makes from downtown, ranking her 15th in the WCC.

Freshmen No Slouches
Coach Wilhoit said they were athletic and would contribute right away and she was right. Freshmen Renahy Young and Melanie Ysaguirre have each come off the bench to give the Lions solid minutes in their collegiate debuts.At her current pace, Ysaguirre will shatter the school record for shooting percentage in a season as she is off to a blistering 61.7% clip to start, going 29-for-47 from the floor. Ysaguirre had her break-out game at Northern Arizona, scoring a career-high 10 points on 5-for-9 from the floor that actually brought down her shooting percentage. She had a tremendous all-around performance with eight points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes vs. UC Irvine and made her first career start at Georgetown. Against Kansas State, she had six points and seven rebounds. She is averaging 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds (52% of which are offensive) in just 11.9 minutes per game.

Vargas out for the Year
The Lions suffered a blow on December 5 when sophomore Jessica Vargas fell awkwardly with 2:25 left. Everyone's worst fears were confirmed when it was determined that Vargas had torn her ACL and would miss the remainder of the season. A starter in six games, Vargas had back-to-back career-highs in her first two starts, scoring 11 points at Long Beach State before exploding for 17 points (and seven rebounds) in the home opener vs. UCSB. She was one of the most efficient players on the court, shooting 51.8% from the floor and pulling down 4.6 rebounds per game, including 19 on the offensive end. The good news is that Vargas should be able to petition for a medical redshirt.

Dynamic Duo
Against Cal Poly, freshman Renahy Young and senior Amanda DeCoud proved a lethal combination. Young led the way with 23 points with DeCoud just behind with 21 in the victory. It was the first time since January 31, 2004 that LMU had two players score 20-plus points in the same game (Kate Murray, 28, and Adrianne Slaughter, 20).

I Can't Drive 55
Fans who witnessed LMU's second half explosion against Fresno State saw what the up-tempo Lion offense is capable of when it gets clicking. The Lions shot 63% en route to 55 points in the come-from-behind victory. The 55 points are the most scored in a half by LMU since it put up 56 against Santa Clara on February 23, 2006.

I Love the 80's
LMU's offense took off with back-to-back 80-point performances against Fresno State and Cal Poly. It marked the first time since 2000 that the Lions had reached the 80-point plateau in consecutive games.

Is 47 a Record?
LMU's 47 free throw attempts against Cal Poly was the most since going to the line 44 times at UC Irvine on November 21, 2005. As far as it being an LMU single-game record, nobody is sure. We do know that the Lions attempted 45 free throws on January 17, 2001, when they set the single-game record for makes with 34. Unfortunately, the record books are incomplete for the years before then so we're unsure if LMU attempted more than 47 free throws in any of the other games on the free throws made list. If you are reading this and know the answer, please contact the LMU athletics media relations office.

Winning Months
LMU's 4-3 mark in the opening month of play was its second consecutive winning November and eighth of the last nine Novembers that the Lions have posted a winning mark. With a 4-4 ledger in December LMU has now registered 11 consecutive months of .500 or better.

Lions Prove You CAN Go Home Again
The 2007-08 LMU roster features six players from outside California, four of which will get the pleasure of a road trip to their hometown this season. First up was redshirt freshman Maggie Burkett, who returned to her native Boise on Nov. 9. Next to return home was sophomore Jessica Vargas when LMU visited Northern Arizona in Flagstaff on Dec. 2. Finally, senior Bronwyn Evans and freshman Lauren Wilkins will return to Portland on Jan. 10.