Jan. 22, 2007
This Week In Women's Basketball: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (8-10, 2-3 WCC) will once again hit the road and travel south for two games. The Gaels will face the LMU Lions (11-8, 3-2 WCC) on Thursday, January 25 at 7:05 p.m. SMC will then head to Malibu and face Pepperdine (8-12, 1-4 WCC) on Saturday, January 27 at 2:05 p.m. The Southern California swing marks the last games before the beginning of second half action in the WCC.
Last Time Out: Saint Mary's split its two games at home last week earning a convincing 84-77 victory over San Francisco on ESPNU. SMC then fell to USD by the score of 85-53 to round out the homestand. Junior guard Serena Benavente led the Gaels in scoring both nights with 21 and 12, respectively.
Who's Hot: Saint Mary's junior guard Serena Benavente recorded a career-high 21 points against USF on Thursday. The Seaside, CA native added five rebounds and five assists while shooting 6-of-13 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the charity stripe. Against San Diego, Benavente once again led the Gaels in scoring with 12 points and three assists. The junior guard averaged 16 points on the week and eclipsed the 20-point mark for the second time this season.
Scouting LMU: The Lions sport an 11-8 overall record and a 3-2 conference mark. LMU has won three of its last four including wins over Pepperdine (52-35), USF (70-64) and Portland (54-34). The Lions are averaging 61.6 points per contest and are shooting an even 40 percent from the field. The Lions have knocked down 33 percent of their treys and 73 percent of their free throws. LMU pulls down 36.2 boards a game and allows 61.4 points per game.
The Lions are led by Jennifer Hall and Amanda Patton. Hall leads the team with 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Patton closely follows with 10.9 points per game and 49 assists. Patton leads the team in WCC play with 13 points per clip. Amanda DeCoud leads LMU with 55 assists and chips in 8.6 points per game.
Versus The Lions: Thursday's matchup will mark the 42nd meeting between the two programs. The Gaels currently hold a 29-12 advantage after a two-game split last season. LMU has grabbed seven of the last nine games but the Gaels won in Los Angeles last season by the score of 66-58.
Scouting Pepperdine: The Waves currently hold an 8-12 overall record and a 1-4 WCC mark. Pepperdine will host Santa Clara before Saint Mary's heads into the Firestone Fieldhouse. Overall the Waves average 60.5 points per game and shoot 39 percent from the floor. Pepperdine shoots 29 percent from three and 74 percent from the charity stripe. The Waves grab 35.2 boards per game and allow 64.2 points per game. The Waves lone conference win came over Portland to open WCC play 59-54.
Three Waves sport double-digits in points and are led by Daphanie Kennedy and her 11.9 per game. Teiosha George pours in 10.4 per night while Teena Wickett follows with 10.1 primarily off the bench. Wickett leads the team in conference play with 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Versus the Waves: Saturday's matchup will mark the 42nd meeting between the two programs. The Gaels showcase a slight 21-20 advantage. The Waves have won eight of the last ten and took both games last season. The last road win in Malibu for the Gaels was in 1995 with a 72-61 decision.
Smith's Streak Snapped: Sophomore guard Jontelle Smith strung together quite a run in the last eight games. The Pinole, CA native has scored in double-digits in eight of the last nine games and saw her steak get snapped in the loss to USD. Over the eight-game streak, Smith averaged 15.3 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 43 percent from beyond the arc. The Gaels were 6-2 over the span of the streak.
Fast Pace Gaels: Saint Mary's is currently second the WCC in scoring, pouring in 69.7 per game. The Gaels erupted for 100 points against Northridge in the Hilton Concord Classic and 95 against Toledo. SMC has eclipsed 70 points nine times this season, including eight of their last nine.
Sharpshooter: Sophomore guard Jontelle Smith has been heating up from beyond the arc. Smith is fourth overall and third in league play in 3-point field goals made with 31 and 10, respectively. Smith is seventh overall and fourth in league in 3-point field goal percentage with a 37 percent and 48 percent mark, respectively. Smith is third overall from the charity stripe with a 85 percent clip from the line.
Glass Cleaners: Saint Mary's has been all over the glass this season. The Gaels lead the WCC in the category with 40.1 per game. SMC also leads in offensive rebounds, pulling down 16.39 a contest. Senior forward Eghosa Obaiza is fourth in the league with 7.3 boards per game and leads the league on the offensive glass with 3.72 per game.
Turned Away: Saint Mary's is second in the WCC with 4.39 blocked shots per contest. The Gaels are led by Eghosa Obaiza and her 1.61 blocks a game which ranks fourth in the conference. Senior center Sheridan Arredondo ranks sixth with 1.22.
Ball Thieves: The Gaels rank first in the WCC with 10.67 steals per contest. Saint Mary's is led by junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy and her 2.94 steals per game which is second in the league. Obaiza ranks eighth with 1.72 steals per game. Shaughnessy is also third in assists with 4.88 helpers per game and her 5.25 assists/turnover ratio clearly leads the league during WCC play.
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 start the second go-around of WCC competition with a lone contest against rival Santa Clara. The Gaels will make the short trek to the Leavey Center on Saturday, February 3 with tipoff slated for 7:05 p.m.