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Women's Basketball Looks to Improve Win Streak

Jan. 15, 2008

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This Week in Saint Mary's Basketball... The Gaels continue West Coast Conference play this weekend, as they take a road trip to Southern California. The road trip marks Saint Mary's road opener to the 2008 WCC season, as they face the Pepperdine Waves and Loyola Marymount Lions. The Gaels will first take on the Waves on Thursday, January 17 at 7:00 PM in Malibu, CA. Continuing on the road Saint Mary's will face the Lions on Saturday, January 19 with tip-off scheduled for 2:00 PM. Both the games will be broadcast live on the radio at www.SMCGaels.com, with Mandy Bible and Tom Carroll calling the action.

Tomlinson Earns WCC Player of the Week... Louella Tomlinson led Saint Mary's to a victory over Santa Clara in its conference opener, as the Gaels edged the Broncos on Saturday, 74-71. Tomlinson continued her outstanding freshman campaign, notching her second double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds. She shot .438 (7-for-16) from the field, and also pitched in with six blocks and three assists to lead the team.

The native of Melbourne, Australia increased her program-record blocks total to 87 for the season, and currently ranks first in Division I with 5.1 blocks per game. Tomlinson needs 47 blocks to tie the Saint Mary's record for blocks in a career, 134, held by Pia Paivio. But the forward has had more than an impressive block performance this season, as she is first on the team in rebounds per game (5.8), and second on the team scoring (13.1).

Scouting the Waves The Waves have played a tough non-conference schedule, posting a 5-8 record prior to WCC action. Pepperdine's five wins came against Cal State Northridge, CS Bakersfield, UCLA, Washington, and CS Fullerton, while falling to Rutgers, UC Santa Barbara, #20 George Washington, and USC to name a few.

Most recently the Waves opened WCC play at Portland and Gonzaga. Pepperdine fell to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the conference opener, 68-56, and in their next game the Waves were edged by the Pilots 60-56.

Against the Bulldogs the Waves were led by freshman guard Katie Menton. Menton recorded a team-high 15 points in the loss, while also grabbing four rebounds, and dishing out two assists. The freshman shot 6-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc in the first WCC game of her career. Senior forward Teiosha George joined Menton in double figures, posting 12 points and four rebounds against Gonzaga.

In Pepperdine's next WCC match-up they were led by sophomore forward Miranda Ayim. Ayim scored 17 points and pulled down six rebounds in the Waves loss. More impressively the sophomore shot perfectly from the floor, as she was 7-of-7 on the night.

On the season the Waves are led by Daphanie Kennedy, averaging 16.3 points and 4.8 rebounds a contest. Kennedy is currently shooting 35.7 percent from the floor, and has knocked down 19 three-pointers this season. Kennedy also leads the team in assists and steals, with 44 (2.9 apg) and 31 respectively (20.1spg).

The only other Wave to average double-digits in scoring is Miranda Ayim with 12.3 points per game. Ayim is second on the team in field goal percentage, recording a 57.6 shooting percentage in 15 games.

Saint Mary's Versus Pepperdine The Gaels have found a good match-up in the West Coast Conference in Pepperdine, as they hold a 22-22 record against the Waves. Last season the Gaels faced the Waves three times, last facing Pepperdine on March 1, 2007 in the WCC tournament. Unfortunately the Gaels were edged by the Waves in overtime, as they finished their season with a 71-67 loss. The Gaels most recent win against Pepperdine came at home last season, as Saint Mary's defeated the Waves 70-64 on February 22 in McKeon Pavilion.

Scouting the Lions Loyola Marymount posted a 8-7 record in preseason competition, as they defeated a handful of teams, including UNLV, Long Beach State, and Indiana State. The Lions' seven loses came to top-notch programs, including California, UC Santa Barbara, and George Washington.

Last weekend LMU opened WCC play in the Pacific Northwest, posting a 1-1 record against Portland and Gonzaga. In the WCC opener the Lions grabbed their first win of the regular season, edging the Portland Pilots 73-71. In the Lions' next outing they were handed their first WCC loss, as they were defeated by the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 81-65.

Since starting WCC action the Lions have been led by freshman guard Ranahy Young, averaging 17.0 points in two outings. Young is shooting 57.7 percent from the floor, and is 4-of-6 from the free throw line.

Against the Pilots Young tabbed a game-high 20 points, while also notching three assists, two steals, and two rebounds. Young was 9-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-4 at the free throw line. Joining Young was Jenna Sybesma, as Sybesma recorded 18 points in the Lions' win. Sybesma went 8-of-11 from the floor against the Pilots.

The Bulldogs proved to disrupt the Lions offensively, as LMU was held to 35.3 percent shooting. Once again Young led the way totaling a team-high 14 points in the game. Amanda DeCoud was the only other Lion to reach the double-digit mark, posting 11 points in the loss.

DeCoud has led the Lions throughout the majority of the season, as she is first on the team in points per game, averaging 10.1 a contest. DeCoud as also totaled the most assists of any Lion, totaling 73, which is 35 more assists than any other LMU player. Two other Lions are just short of averaging double-digits in points, with Young and Sybesma recording 9.9 and 9.6 points per game respectively. Leading LMU in rebounding this season is Valerie Ogoke, posting 8.1 rebounds per game.

Saint Mary's Versus Loyola Marymount The Gaels have the edge on the Lions, as they hold a 30-13 overall record against LMU. Last season Saint Mary's split with the Lions, defeating them in Los Angeles, and falling to them at home. The most recent game took place in McKeon Pavilion, where the Gaels fell to the Lions 76-61 on February 24. Earlier in the season Saint Mary's had defeated Loyola Marymount, 64-59 in Gersten Pavilion.

National Leader Freshman forward Louella Tomlinson currently leads the NCAA Div. I in blocks per game for the second week in a row. Tomlinson has battled Michigan State's 6-9 center, Alyssa DeHann, throughout the season for the first place spot, with this week being the second consecutive week that Tomlinson has been able to out block the Spartan. Tomlinson averages 5.1 blocks per game (17 games), while DeHann has dropped to 4.4 blocks per game (18 games).

Clutch Chambers 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.

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.

Gael Pick Pocket Senior Lauren Shaughnessy has accumulated 36 steals this season. Shaughnessy has picked up 36 steals in 17 games, ranking fourth in the WCC in steals per game with 2.1 a contest. The senior is narrowing in on the all-time career steal record, as she needs 28 more steals to tie the record at 221 steals. Shaughnessy recorded 157 steals in her first three years as a Gael, and has tabbed 33 so far this season.

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 87, after recording six blocks against Santa Clara on Saturday, January 12.

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 42 threes, with a 39.6 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Her 42 threes this season boosts her total count to 148 threes in her career. The junior is just 37 threes away from breaking the record for the most three pointers in a career (185), held by Anja Bordt `91.

Smith currently ranks second in the NCAA Division I in three-pointers made per game and first in the West Coast Conference, averaging 3.23 a contest. The Gael guard 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 fourth 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 87 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.

Long Distance Please The Gaels have proved to be a threat from long distance, as they have knocked down 108 three-pointers, while shooting 35.4 percent from behind the arc. The 108 three-pointers ranks third in the WCC, averaging 6.4 made three pointers per game. Saint Mary's has hit 108-of-305 attempts from behind the arc, and their 35.4 percent conversion ranks second 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 16.5 points per game. Smith ranks first in three-point field goals made, totaling 42 three-pointers on the year for a 3.23 average. The junior guard also ranks seventh in three-point field goal percentage, with 39.6 percent mark.

Other Gaels topping the list are Lauren Shaughnessy, Serena Benavente, Louella Tomlinson, and Lindsay Ellis. Shaughnessy ranks fourth in steals with 2.12 per game. The 5-4 senior guard ranks fifth in offensive rebounds per game, picking up 2.53 a game. Benavente ranks fifth in three-point field goal precentage, posting a 41.3 shooting percentage. Tomlinson tops the blocks per game category, averaging 5.1, while also placing eighth in scoring (13.1) and and 10th in rebounding (5.8).

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 Following the Southern California road trip the Gaels will return Moraga, CA as they face San Francisco and San Diego. Saint Mary's will first host the Dons on Thursday, January 24 at 7:00 PM, and will then face the Toreros on Saturday, January 26 at 2:00 PM.