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Women's Basketball Kicks Off WCC Play

Jan. 8, 2008

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This Week in Saint Mary's Basketball... The Gaels begin West Coast Conference play this weekend, as they take a short trip to Santa Clara Saturday night. Tip-off against the Broncos is scheduled for 7:00 PM, marking the first WCC game of the season for the Gaels. The game will be broadcast live on the radio at www.SMCGaels.com.

"This is Why I'm Hot"...Sophomore slasher Sierra Chambers picked the right time to heat-up against the CS Fullerton Titans on December 29. With the Gaels down 70-69 Chambers drove to the basket with 10 seconds on the clock, her basket was good with three seconds remaining, as Saint Mary's stole the game away from the Titans, 71-70. Chambers scored a career-high 19 points versus CS Fullerton, while also dishing out three assists and grabbing two rebounds. In 27 minutes of action Chambers went 8-of-11 from the floor (72.7%), 2-of-3 from the charity stripe, and 1-of-2 from long range.

The next night Saint Mary's defeated the Northern Colorado Bears, as Chambers recorded nine points, six rebounds, and two assists for the Gaels. With the two wins in hand, Chambers helped the Gaels improve their record to 8-8.

National Leader...Freshman forward Louella Tomlinson currently leads the NCAA Div. I in blocks per game. Tomlinson has battled Michigan State's 6-9 center, Alyssa DeHann, throughout the season for the first place spot, with this week being the first week Tomlinson has been able to out block the Spartan. Tomlinson averages 5.1 blocks per game (16 games), while DeHann has dropped to 4.8 blocks per game (16 games).

Lahde Returns for Fifth Year After suffering a season ending knee injury against the Pacific Tigers on November 28, senior Maija Lahde was unsure whether she would play in a Gael jersey again.

Lahde a native of Finland took some time off to go home over the holidays, while her team traveled to Utah for two non-conference games. While in Finland Lahde spoke with family and friends, taking time to decide whether she would return to Saint Mary's for the 2008-09 season.

Fortunately for Saint Mary's Lahde recently decided to return for the Gaels next season. "My parents told me that they would support me in whatever I decided. I love it here at Saint Mary's, I love the team and the coaches, and I feel good about the direction the program is going," said Lahde.

Although the senior participated in seven games for the Gaels this season, NCAA Div. I rules allow players to get their year of eligibility back if they played in less than 30 percent of the team's competition schedule. Luckily for Head Coach Paul Thomas and the Gaels, Lahde played in 23% of Saint Mary's schedule, not including West Coast Conference Tournament action, allowing her to medically redshirt the 2007-08 season.

At 24 years old Lahde will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the young 2008-09 squad. Lahde will join juniors Jontelle Smith and Mikaela Cowles for their senior seasons.

Scouting the Broncos Santa Clara currently holds the best record in the West Coast Conference, posting an 11-3 start to the 2007-08 season. The Broncos have defeated the likes of Washington State, Boise State, Long Beach State, Cal Poly, and Sacramento State.

The Broncos are led by a very experienced group of players, with three seniors and two juniors making up the starting lineup. Chandice Cronk leads all Santa Clara players with 17.5 points per game, ranking second in conference in scoring per game. Cronk is shooting 46.2 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from beyond the arc, and 76.7 percent from the free throw line. In the Broncos most recent game against CS Bakersfield, Cronk scored 28 points in 38 mintues of action. The forward shot 9-of-17 from the floor, while hitting 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.

Joining Cronk in leading the Broncos is Jen Gottschalk, averaging 16.1 points per contest, good enough for sixth in the WCC. Gottschalk leads the Broncos in rebounding, pulling down 7.1 a contest, while also dishing out 2.1 assists.

Rounding out the Bronco's scoring leaders are Elizabeth Doran (11.8), Tracey Walker (9.2), and Sara Majors (6.9). Walker and Majors each average a team leading 3.9 assists per game, ranking fourth and fifth in the WCC.

The Gaels may find their match in the three point shooting department Saturday night, as Santa Clara currently leads the league in three point field goal percentage and three point field goals made. Saint Mary's ranks third in both categories. The Broncos have taken 288 three pointers this season, while the Gaels have attempted 300.

Saint Mary's Versus Santa Clara The Gaels have a 18-26 overall record against the Broncos, with their most recent match-up resulting in a win over Santa Clara on February 3, 2007, 76-61. Saint Mary's was unable to defeat the Broncos in their first competition of the 2007 season, as they fell 84-71.

Record Breaking News Freshman forward Louella Tomlinson had a record breaking performance against the Fresno State Bulldogs on December 12, totaling seven blocks to improve her block count to 57 on the year. The forward's 57 blocks captured the record for most blocks in a season, destroying the previous record of 50 held by Pia Paivio. Against Alabama on December 9, Tomlinson tallied a SMC single game record 10 blocks in 34 minutes of action, breaking her previous record of eight blocks in a game. If Tomlinson can keep up her record breaking pace, she will be on target to beat the most blocks in a career, which is held by Pia Paivio at 134. Tomlinson currently averages 5.1 blocks per game, ranking first in NCAA Division I. Tomlinson's current block total this season is 81, after recording five blocks against Northern Colorado on Sunday, December 30.

Smith For Three!!!Junior guard Jontelle Smith has been a threat from long range throughout her career at Saint Mary's. The guard totaled 106 made three pointers after her first two seasons as a Gael, and has remained on target from beyond the arc. This year the Pinole native has already knocked down 40 threes, with a 38.8 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Her 40 threes this season boosts her total count to 146 threes in her career. The junior is just 39 threes away from breaking the record for the most three pointers in a career (185), held by Anja Bordt `91.

Smith currently ranks fourth in the NCAA Division I in three-pointers made per game and first in the West Coast Conference, averaging 3.3 a contest. The Gael guard most recently knocked down seven three-pointers against UC Davis on December 17, breaking her previous best of five threes in a contest.

SWAT Team As a team the Gaels currently rank third in the NCAA Division I in blocks per game, posting 6.9 per contest. Freshman Louella Tomlinson leads the way for the Gaels, recording a team-high 81 blocks. Lindsay Ellis has added to the team total, posting 11 blocks, while Lauren Shaughnessy and Leanna Richey have tabbed seven. Rounding out the block total is junior Mikaela Cowles with two and Maija Lahde, Kira Kojola, and Erika Ruix with one block apiece. The NCAA Division I includes 326 teams from around the nation.

Benavente Selected to All-Tourney Senior guard Serena Benavente put together stellar weekend at the Contra Costa Times Classic hosted by California. The veteran guard showed leadership while facing two ranked opponents, #12 California and #23 Vanderbilt, averaging 17.5 points per game, and recording a 65.2 shooting percentage from the floor (15-of-23). In two games, the Seaside, CA native shot 5-of-11 from behind the arc, while also chipping in four assists and three steals. Against the Golden Bears Benavente recorded a season-high 19 points.

Gael Pick Pocket Senior Lauren Shaughnessy has accumulated 33 steals this season. Shaughnessy has picked up 33 steals in 16 games, ranking sixth in the WCC in steals per game with 2.1 a contest.

Long Distance Please The Gaels have proved to be a threat from long distance, as they have knocked down 104 three-pointers, while shooting 38.9 percent from behind the arc. The 104 three-pointers ranks third in the WCC, averaging 6.5 made three pointers per game. Saint Mary's has hit 104-of-300 attempts from behind the arc, and their 38.9 percent conversion ranks third in the WCC.

New Kid on the BLOCK Freshman forward Louella Tomlinson broke the record for blocks in a game, tallying eight against the Pacific Tigers on November 28. Tomlinson out did herself on December 9 against Alabama, totalling 10 blocks in the game. Prior to Tomlinson's arrival at Saint Mary's the record for blocks in a game was five, held by Pia Paivio since 1991.

Against Pacific Tomlinson did not record a block in the first half, but exploded in the second half for the Gaels. At one point in the game, Tomlinson rejected three Tiger field goal attempts in a single possession.

Lahde Named Classic MVP Maija Lahde put up two back-to-back MVP performances in one weekend, as she led the Gael's to the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic title. The senior forward averaged 19 points and eight rebounds in two games, while also compiling six steals, five assists, and one block.

On the first night of the classic against the Yale Bulldogs, Lahde recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Finland native shot fifty percent from the field on 5-of-10 shooting, while also pitching in two steals and three assists. The next night out Lahde scored a game-high 24 points against Boise State. The senior forward shot 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, sealing the Gael's win down the stretch. Lahde's eight rebounds and four steals against the Bulldogs were also game highs.

Lahde was named the Concord Hilton Thanksgiving Classic Most Valuable Player for her efforts.

Shaughnessy Shatters Career-Highs Senior guard Lauren Shaughnessy played the game of her career on Friday, November 23, leading the Gaels in a 15-point win over the visiting Yale Bulldogs. The guard recorded five career-highs on the night, in points, rebounds, blocks, field goals made, and field goals attempted. Shaughnessy tallied 26 points in the Gael's win, shattering her previous career-high by nine points. The 5-4 senior out-rebounded every other player on the floor, posting a game-high 11 rebounds, while setting a new career record. Though small in stature, Shaughnessy also chipped in a career-high three blocks. Adding to her record breaking night the Washington native recorded career-highs in field goals made with 10 and field goals attempted with 17. Shaughnessy was also named an all-tournament selection for her performances over the weekend.

Lahde WCC Player of the Week (11/12/07) Saint Mary's Maija Lahde enjoyed an outstanding opening weekend to the 2007-08 season, leading the Gaels to a 2-1 record at the Basketball Traveler's Classic in Waco, TX. The senior posted solid all-around numbers, averaging 11.0 points and 6.7 rebounds through three games, and shooting .438 (14-for-32) percent from the floor. Lahde pitched in 10 points in a win over Prairie View A&M on Friday, before scoring a game-high 19 points with 12 boards in Sunday's 87-65 victory over Howard. The native of Finland was just two assists shy of a triple-double in Sunday's win.

Smith Garners All-Tournament Honors Junior Jontelle Smith earned all-tournament accolades after her stellar performance at the Basketball Traveler's Tip-Off Tournament. The 5-5 junior guard averaged 13.7 points per game, while also chipping in 11 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Smith tied her career-high five three pointers against Prairie View in the opening game of the tournament. The junior guard went 8-of-22 from behind the arc and 13-of-19 from the charity stripe in the tournament.

Gaels in Top-10 of WCC Multiple members of the Saint Mary's squad rank in the top-10 of West Coast Conference statistical categories. Junior guard Jontelle Smith leads the way for the Gaels currently ranking fifth in the WCC in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per game. Smith ranks first in three-point field goals made, totaling 40 three-pointers on the year for a 3.3 average. The junior guard also ranks eigth in three-point field goal percentage, with 38.8 percent mark. Other Gaels topping the list are Lauren Shaughnessy, Serena Benavente, Louella Tomlinson, and Lindsay Ellis. Shaughnessy ranks sixh in steals with 2.06 per game, while also posting a 0.80 assist to turnover ratio for a 10th place finish in the WCC. The 5-4 senior guard ranks fifth in offensive rebounds per game, picking up 2.56 a game and ninth in assists per game, with a 3.0 average. Benavente ranks sixth in three-point field goal precentage, posting a 40.0 shooting percentage. Tomlinson tops the blocks per game category, averaging 5.1, while also placing ninth in scoring and offensive rebounding. The freshman averages 12.6 points per game, and pulls down 2.25 offensive rebounds per game.

Gael Coverage This season Saint Mary's athletics is bringing fans more media coverage for women's basketball games than ever before. All of the women's basketball games will air live on the radio at SMCGaels.com.

In addition to radio coverage, fans will have the opportunity to watch the Gaels live at any home game, via an internet streaming package available at www.SMCGaels.com. To access the live video streaming, fans must sign up by clicking on the "Gael All Access" button located in the upper right hand corner of the www.SMCGaels.com home page.

Through CSTV fans can sign-up for three different packages; $6.99 for a month of Gael coverage, $49.95 for a year of Gael coverage, or $119.95 for a year of coverage for all CSTV sponsored schools. By signing up for one of these three packages fans can watch all of the women's basketball games held in McKeon Pavilion.

Gaels Picked 5th in WCC Pre-Season The Gaels were picked to finish fifth in the West Coast Conference Pre-Season Coaches Poll. Saint Mary's returns four of five starters, including All-WCC First Team Selection Jontelle Smith. Joining Smith are seniors Maija Lahde, an honorable mention pick, Serena Benavente, and Lauren Shaughnessy. San Diego was picked to finish first in the conference with four first place votes, while Gonzaga received three first place votes.

"The Breakfast Club" Saint Mary's head women's basketball coach Paul Thomas announced the new Coach Thomas Breakfast Club schedule. The club will now meet at Roncalli Hall in the Founder's Dining Room on the Saint Mary's campus.

This is your opportunity to get the inside scoop on the women's basketball program. Coach Thomas will talk about upcoming games, and what the Gaels need to do to be successful. Player guests and door prizes will also be a part of the event. The cost of the breakfast is $5 per person and includes eggs, sausage/bacon, toast, potatoes and juice/coffee. All fans, alumni and friends of the college are welcome.

Eight dates have been set, with all breakfast times slated for 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. The first breakfast is scheduled for November 13 and will continue until the last meeting on March 4, 2008.

Coming Up Next The Gaels will travel to Southern California next weekend, as they face Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount on the road. Saint Mary's will first face the Pepperdine Waves in Malibu, CA on January 17 at 7:00 PM. Wrapping up the weekend the Gaels will play in Los Angeles, CA against the Loyola Marymount Lions on January 19 with tip-off scheduled for 2:00 PM. Both games will be broadcasted live on www.smcgaels.com.