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Women's Basketball Hosts San Francisco On ESPNU

Jan. 16, 2007

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This Week In Women's Basketball: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (7-9, 1-2 WCC) return home for two games this week. The Gaels open the week against Bay Area rival San Francisco (7-11, 1-2 WCC) on Thursday, January 18 at 7:05 p.m. The contest can be seen on ESPNU. The Gaels will then host the University of San Diego (14-3, 3-0) on Saturday, January 20 at 2:05 p.m. Both games will be played in McKeon Pavilion.

Last Time Out: Saint Mary's split its two games on the Pacific Northwest road-trip. The Gaels defeated Portland 74-52 and then fell to the two-time defending champs Gonzaga by the score of 85-49. Against Portland, the Gaels showcased three scorers in double-figures, including a game-high 20 by sophomore guard Jontelle Smith. In the loss to the Zags, senior center Sheridan Arredondo tallied a team-high 12 points.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's sophomore guard Jontelle Smith has been a steady contributor for the Gaels as of late. The Pinole, CA native has poured in a double-digit point performance in each of the last seven games, including a career-high 26 against Toledo. On the season, Smith leads SMC with 12.0 points per game while shooting 39 percent from three and 85 percent from the charity stripe.

Scouting San Francisco: The Dons enter Moraga with a 7-11 overall record and a 1-2 conference mark. USF is coming off a 77-65 victory over Pepperdine to earn it first conference win on the season. The Dons dropped league games against San Diego (52-45) and LMU (70-64) to begin their conference slate. Overall USF is averaging 58.1 points per game and is shooting 41 percent from the floor. The Dons are shooting 27 percent from three and 68 percent from the charity stripe.

The Dons are led by Dominique Carter and her 14.7 points per game. Carter is the only USF player in double-figures as she is shooting 46 percent from the floor and 76 percent from the free-throw line. Nickie Warren leads the team on the glass with 6.2 boards per game and is pouring in 8.4 per night. Shay Rollins has handed out a team-high 47 helpers and is second in scoring with 9.7 per game.

Versus The Dons: Thursday's matchup will mark the 42nd meeting between the two programs. The Gaels currently hold a 21-20 advantage after grabbing both games last season. SMC has won its last three against USF and have not lost in McKeon to the Dons since a 58-56 defeat in 2003.

Scouting San Diego: The Toreros sport a 14-3 overall record and a 3-0 conference mark to have a stranglehold on the top of the WCC. USD will face Santa Clara on Thursday before heading up to Moraga. USD has won four in a row including thrilling wins over Pepperdine (73-71) and LMU (50-49). As a team the Toreros are averaging 61.3 per game and are shooting 41 percent from the field. USD has knocked down 32 percent of its treys and 70 percent of its free-throws.

Individually USD is led by Amber Sprague and Kelly Winther. Sprague paces the Toreros with 14.1 per game and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds and 31 blocks. Winther is averaging 10.9 points per contest and is shooting 43 percent from downtown. Amanda Rego leads the conference with 135 assists while averaging 9.4 points per contest.

Versus the Toreros: Saturday's matchup will mark the 41st meeting between the two programs. The Gaels showcase a 31-9 advantage. SMC has won 14 straight home games against USD dating back to 1992. The two teams split last year's two contests with each team earning a home victory.

Smith Streakin: Sophomore guard Jontelle Smith has been stringing together quite a run in the last seven games. The Pinole, CA native has scored in double-digits in the last seven games to average 15.9 points over that span. Smith is shooting 48 percent from the floor including 46 percent from the three to lead SMC to a 5-2 mark over its last seven.

Fast Pace Gaels: Saint Mary's is currently second the WCC in scoring, pouring in 69.8 per game. The Gaels erupted for 100 points against Northridge in the Hilton Concord Classic and 95 against Toledo. SMC has eclipsed 70 points eight times this season, including seven of their last eight.

Glass Cleaners: Saint Mary's has been all over the glass this season. The Gaels lead the WCC in the category with 40.3 per game. SMC also leads in offensive rebounds, pulling down 16.44 a contest. Senior forward Eghosa Obaiza is third in the league with 7.4 boards per game and leads the league on the offensive glass with 3.81 per game.

Turned Away: Saint Mary's is second in the WCC with 4.56 blocked shots per contest. The Gaels are led by Eghosa Obaiza and her 1.69 blocks a game which ranks fourth in the conference. Senior center Sheridan Arredondo ranks sixth with 1.25.

Ball Thieves: The Gaels rank first in the WCC with 11.12 steals per contest. Saint Mary's is led by junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy and her 3.00 steals per game which leads the league. Obaiza ranks seventh with 1.81 steals per game. Shaughnessy is also third in assists with 4.81 helpers per game.

Paul Thomas Records First WCC Victory: First-year head coach Paul Thomas recorded his first career West Coast Conference victory with a 74-53 win over Portland. Thomas earned his first Division I victory in a 69-68 win over Miami. Even though Thomas has won 235 times in his 12-year career, the thrilling win over Miami marks his first as a Gael and the first for SMC in the 2006-07 season.

Gaels Ink Two Recruits: Saint Mary's women's head basketball coach Paul Thomas announced the signing of Suzie Davis (Oxnard, CA) and Leanna Richey (Brentwood, CA).

Davis preps at Pacifica High School where she is a two-time Pacific View first-team selection and all-county selection. The 5-11 guard/forward led the Pacific View League in scoring (17 ppg), rebounds (11 ppg), blocks (3bpg) and steals (3spg). Richey led Liberty High to an 18-10 overall record and a 10-4 BVAL mark. The 6-3 post is also a standout on the volleyball court earning All-BVAL accolades.

Three Newcomer Join Roster: Saint Mary's welcomes three new players to the squad in 2006-07. The Gaels welcome freshmen Lindsay Ellis, from Sacramento, CA and Kira Kojola, from Espoo, Finland, along with junior college transfer Mattiana Thalley, from Carson CA and Compton Community College.

Saint Mary's Picked To Finish Fifth In WCC: The Gaels were picked to finish fifth in the West Coast Conference in 2006-07. The Gaels finished in fifth place last year, but return four starters and bring in a new head coach in Paul Thomas. Saint Mary's received 28 points, five points behind Santa Clara for fourth. Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount were picked to finish first and Gonzaga was picked to finish third. San Diego, San Francisco and Portland rounded out the final eight.

Next Week: Saint Mary's will hit the road and head south to face Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The Gaels will face the Lions on Thursday, January 26 at 7:05 p.m. SMC will then head to Malibu and face the Waves on Saturday, January 27 at 2:05 p.m.