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Women's Basketball Returns Home For Two Key WCC Games

Feb. 5, 2007

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This Week In Women's Basketball: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (10-11, 4-4 WCC) will return home for two games this week. The Gaels will face the Gonzaga Bulldogs (16-9, 8-1 WCC) on Thursday, February 8 at 7:05 p.m. SMC will then host the Portland Pilots (9-15, 1-8 WCC) on Saturday, February 10 at 2:05 p.m. Both games will be played in McKeon Pavilion.

Last Time Out: Saint Mary's traveled down to the rival arena of Santa Clara and handed them a 76-61 loss on Saturday. Four Gaels recorded double-digits in points as sophomore guard Jontelle Smith tallied a game-high 19 points. SMC shot 47 percent from the floor and 58 percent from downtown.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's senior center Sheridan Arredondo continues to shine down low for the Gaels. Arredondo torched the Broncos once again, this time pouring in 16 points and grabbing seven boards on 6-of-10 shooting. Arredondo put together a solid weekend on the Southern California road-trip. The Saugus, CA native tallied 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting against LMU and then pumped in a game-high 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting against Pepperdine. Arredondo nearly missed a double-double with nine rebounds in the contest.

Scouting Gonzaga: The Bulldogs enter Moraga with a 16-9 overall record and an 8-1 conference mark. Gonzaga dropped its first WCC game of the season against Pepperdine last week in a 70-56 decision. The Zags bounced back and defeated LMU on Saturday by the score of 66-56. The Bulldogs are averaging 68.7 points per game and are shooting 40 percent from the floor.

The Bulldogs showcase three players in double-figures for points. Stephanie Hawk leads the way with 14.7 points, 7.7 rebounds per game and 58 blocks. Heather Bowman follows with 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest while Michelle Elliott pours in 10.6 points and has handed out 58 assists.

Versus The Bulldogs: Thursday's matchup will mark the 42nd meeting between the two programs with SMC holding a 22-19 advantage. The two teams last faced off in Spokane earlier in the season where the Bulldogs secured an 85-49 victory. The Gaels last defeated the Bulldogs at home in 2004 with a 60-48 victory.

Scouting Portland: The Pilots will face the Santa Clara Broncos before making the short trek up to Moraga for a Saturday matinee. UP currently holds a 9-15 overall record and a 1-8 conference mark. The Pilots lone WCC win came in a 64-61 victory over San Francisco. UP is averaging 61.8 points per tilt and is shooting 40 percent from the floor.

The Pilots are led by Laiken Dollente and Rachel Warren. Dollente paces UP with 16 points per game and 66 assists. Warren is averaging 10.6 points and a team-leading 7.7 rebounds per game. Portland has lost nine of its last 10 games, including back-to-back losses to LMU and Pepperdine.

Versus the Pilots: The two programs have met 42 times with the Gaels holding a 25-17 advantage. SMC handled UP in Portland earlier in the season by the score of 74-52. The last time the Gaels lost at home against the Pilots was in a 69-54 loss in 1997.

Second Chance: The conference schedule is now on its second go-around of the season as all WCC teams will face off one more time. Saint Mary's is currently tied in fourth place with Santa Clara after the victory. Gonzaga and San Diego reside atop the standings with Gonzaga defeating USD.

Fast Pace Gaels: Saint Mary's is currently second the WCC in scoring, pouring in 69.9 per game. The Gaels erupted for 100 points against Northridge in the Hilton Concord Classic and 95 against Toledo. SMC has eclipsed 70 points 11 times this season, including five games during conference play.

Sharpshooter: Sophomore guard Jontelle Smith has been heating up from beyond the arc and is the hottest shooter from three during conference play. Smith is fourth overall and third in league play in 3-point field goals made with 41 and 20, respectively. Smith is fourth overall and first in league in 3-point field goal percentage with a 40 percent and 55 percent mark, respectively. Smith is third overall from the charity stripe with an 84 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 per game. SMC also leads in offensive rebounds, pulling down 15.52 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 3.48 per game. Maija Lahde is fourth in offensive rebounds with 2.48 per game.

Turned Away: Saint Mary's is second in the WCC with 4.19 blocked shots per contest. The Gaels are led by Eghosa Obaiza and her 1.52 blocks a game which ranks fifth in the conference. Senior center Sheridan Arredondo ranks seventh with 1.24.

Ball Thieves: The Gaels rank second in the WCC with 9.90 steals per contest. Saint Mary's is led by junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy and her 2.60 steals per game which is second in the league. Obaiza ranks ninth with 1.57 steals per game.

Helping Out: Saint Mary's junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy is second in the WCC in assists with 5.15 helpers per game. Shaugnessy has kept good care of the ball as well as her 2.64 assists/turnover ratio leads the league overall and her 3.73 ratio paces 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 once again hit the road for two games. The Gaels will head to the city to face off against Bay Area rival San Francisco. Game time is scheduled for Thursday, February 15 at 7 p.m. The Gaels will then head down to San Diego and face the Toreros on Saturday, February 17 at 2 p.m.