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Women's Basketball Back Home for WCC Action

Jan. 23, 2008

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This Week in Saint Mary's Basketball... The Gaels will play their first home contest of the 2008 West Coast Conference season, as they face the San Francisco Dons and San Diego Toreros in McKeon Pavilion. Saint Mary's (9-10) will start the week against San Francisco (11-7), on Thursday, January 24 at 7:00 PM. The Gaels' second match-up, against San Diego (9-8), is scheduled for Saturday, January 26 at 2:00 PM in McKeon Pavilion.

Saint Mary's is coming off back-to-back loses in Southern California, as they fell to Pepperdine (80-67) and Loyola Marymount (73-71) on the road.

This is Why I'm Hot... Junior Jontelle Smith put together two consistent games for the Gaels last week, recording 18 and 15 points on back-to-back outings. Against Pepperdine the junior led the team in scoring with 18 points, while shooting 8-of-19 from the floor. In Saint Mary's next game, Smith scored 15 points, knocking down 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. Smith also chipped in six rebounds, three assists, and three steals on the week.

Smith currently ranks fourth in the WCC (in WCC play only) in scoring, averaging 17.0 points a game in three contests. Of the guard's 51 points in conference play, 24 of them have come from long range.

Scouting the Dons San Francisco is coming off their first loss in West Coast Conference action, as they fell to the Gonzaga Bulldogs last week, 66-44. The Dons currently hold a 11-7 overall record and 2-1 record in WCC. In the game against WCC-leading Gonzaga, the Dons' Necolia Simmons tabbed a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Gonzaga, with a 15 point lead in hand, were stunned by the Dons as they went on an offensive hot-streak, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to two. With two minutes remaining San Francisco was unable capitalize on their last few chances.

On the season the Dons are 11-7 overall, defeating teams such as, Colorado State, Oregon State, Sacramento State, and San Diego.

Leading the team in scoring this season is senior Dominique Carter. Carter, a center from Alameda, CA, is averaging 18.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 33.1 minutes on the season. Carter is a three-time WCC First Team selection, and has totaled 1,592 points in her career as a Don. Her 1,592 points place her fourth on the all-time scoring list at San Francisco, and she is just three points shy of taking over the No. 3 position.

Junior Transfer Necolia Simmons has been hot for the Dons in WCC play. The 2007 JC Kodak All-American has recorded three consecutive games in WCC play with 20 points or more, tabbing 23 against San Diego, 20 versus Portland, and 23 against the Gonzaga.

Saint Mary's Versus San Francisco The Gaels hold a 23-20 overall record against Bay Area rival San Francisco. Saint Mary's is currently on a five game win-streak against the Dons, with their last win coming on February 15, 2007, 61-51. For the last two seasons Saint Mary's has swept both games against San Francisco, winning both match-ups in 2006 and 2007. The Dons last handed the Gaels a loss in 2005, edging the Gaels 54-52 at War Memorial Gym.

Scouting the Toreros San Diego holds a 9-8 overall record and 0-3 record in conference play. The Toreros most recent loss came to Portland on January 19, as they fell in overtime to the Pilots, 76-75. San Diego's Amber Sprague led the Toreros in the close battle, recording an impressive double-double, with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Amanda Rego joined Sprague, posting 17 points and six rebounds.

In overtime both teams battled, but the Pilots held a four-point lead until there was just five seconds left. Henderson hit a three-pointer to pull USD to within one, but that is as close as the Toreros would get.

Sprague leads the team in scoring and rebounding average this season, posting 17.0 points per game to go along with 8.5 rebounds. The junior center from San Diego, CA is currently shooting 46.4 percent from the floor and 80.6 percent from the free throw line.

Two other Toreros average double-digits, with Kiva Herman and Amanda Rego recording 13.6 and 10.2 points per game respectively. Rego leads the team in assists and steals, averaging 8.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game.

San Diego finished last season with a 10-4 record in WCC play, good enough for a second place finish. Eight letterwinners return for the Toreros this season, while losing only two seniors from their 2006-07 squad.

Saint Mary's Versus San Diego The Gaels hold the advantage, 32-10, all-time against the Toreros. In the last meeting between the two schools Saint Mary's defeated San Diego 51-47 in Jenny Craig Pavilion. Maija Lahde and Serena Benavente led the Gaels in the win, recording 15 and 13 points respectively. Benavente also chipped in eight rebounds on the night, while shooting perfectly from the charity stripe (8-of-8).

The Gaels' largest win streak against the Toreros came from 1999-2003, when Saint Mary's defeated San Diego nine consecutive times.

The Little Giant Senior Lauren Shaughnessy is small in stature, but big in heart. The Gaels' point guard stands at 5-4, but that does not stop her from doing a big job. Shaughnessy currently leads Saint Mary's in rebounding, averaging 6.3 boards per contest. Shaughnessy is 10th in the West Coast Conference in rebounds per game, and third in the conference in offensive rebounds, averaging 2.79 a contest. Although she is usually the smallest player on the court, the senior uses her exceptional quickness and nose for the ball to pick up multiple rebounds per game. The senior recently recorded a career-high 17 rebounds against Loyola Marymount on January 19, breaking her previous best of 11 rebounds in a game.

Tomlinson Earns WCC Player of the Week (1/14/08) Louella Tomlinson led Saint Mary's to a victory over Santa Clara in its conference opener, as the Gaels edged the Broncos on Saturday, January 12, 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 six blocks and three assists to lead the team. For her efforts the forward was named WCC Player of the Week, marking Tomlinson's first conference recognition of her career.

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 third consecutive week that Tomlinson has been able to out block the Spartan. Tomlinson averages 5.2 blocks per game (19 games), while DeHann has dropped to 4.4 blocks per game (20 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 38 steals this season. Shaughnessy has picked up 38 steals in 19 games, ranking fourth in the WCC in steals per game with 2.0 a contest. The senior is narrowing in on the all-time career steal record, as she needs 26 more steals to tie the record at 221 steals. Shaughnessy recorded 157 steals in her first three years as a Gael, and has tabbed 38 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 5.2 blocks per game, ranking first in NCAA Division I. Tomlinson's current block total this season is 98, after recording nine blocks against Loyola Marymount on Saturday, January 19.

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 48 threes, with a 38.4 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Her 48 threes this season boosts her total count to 154 threes in her career. The junior is just 31 threes away from breaking the record for the most three pointers in a career (185), held by Anja Bordt `91.

Smith currently ranks fifth in the NCAA Division I in three-pointers made per game and first in the West Coast Conference, averaging 3.2 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 sixth in the NCAA Division I in blocks per game, posting 6.8 per contest. Freshman Louella Tomlinson leads the way for the Gaels, recording a team-high 98 blocks. Lindsay Ellis has added to the team total, posting 12 blocks, while Lauren Shaughnessy and Leanna Richey have tabbed eight and seven blocks respectively. Rounding out the block total is junior Mikaela Cowles with two and Maija Lahde, Kira Kojola, and Erika Ruiz with one block apiece. The NCAA Division I includes 326 teams from around the nation.

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 sixth in the WCC in scoring, averaging 16.5 points per game. Smith ranks first in three-point field goals made, totaling 48 three-pointers on the year for a 3.20 average. The junior guard also ranks eigth in three-point field goal percentage, with 38.4 percent mark.

Other Gaels topping the list are Lauren Shaughnessy, Serena Benavente, and Louella Tomlinson. Shaughnessy ranks fourth in steals with 2.0 per game. The 5-4 senior guard ranks 10th in rebounding (6.3) and third in offensive rebounds per game, picking up 2.79 a game. Benavente ranks sixth in three-point field goal precentage, posting a 40.0 shooting percentage, and third in free throw percentage, tabbing a 87.2 percent mark. Tomlinson tops the blocks per game category, averaging 5.2, while also placing ninth in scoring (12.9) and and seventh in offensive rebounding (2.21).

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 After playing thier first home games of the West Coast Conference, the Gaels will head up to the Pacific Northwest for two more conferences games. The Gaels first face the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Thursday, January 31 at 7:00 PM in Spokanne, WA. The second game of the week will take place in Portland, OR where the Gaels take on the Portland Pilots on Saturday, February 2 at 1:00 PM. Both games will be broadcast on radio internet at www.SMCGaels.com.