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Women's Basketball Embarks On Final Conference Road Trip

Feb. 13, 2007

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This Week In Women's Basketball: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (11-12, 5-5 WCC) will embark on its final road trip of West Coast Conference play with two games. The Gaels will open their week against Bay Area rival San Francisco (8-17, 2-8 WCC) on Thursday, February 15 at 7:05 p.m. from War Memorial Gym. SMC will then head south to San Diego and face the USD Toreros on Saturday, February 17 at 2 p.m. from Jenny Craig Pavilion (19-5, 8-2 WCC)

Last Time Out: Saint Mary's returned home and split its two games against the Pacific Northwest teams. The Gaels opened their week with a 78-68 loss to WCC leading Gonzaga on Thursday. SMC bounced back and beat Portland 72-66 on Saturday.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's junior forward Maija Lahde had an impressive week on the glass for the Gaels. Lahde grabbed 15 boards and made five steals for a career-high against Gonzaga. Two nights later, the Espoo, Finland native bettered that performance with 16 rebounds and 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. On the season, Lahde is averaging 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

Scouting San Francisco: The Dons host the Gaels with an 8-17 overall record and a 2-8 conference mark. USF has dropped six of its last seven games with its lone over the span coming against Pepperdine on the road. The Dons are averaging 59.8 points per game which ranks last in the WCC. USF is shooting 41 percent from the floor, 26 percent from three and 69 percent from the charity stripe.

The Dons are led by Dominique Carter off the bench. Carter is averaging 14.1 points per game and grabs 4.9 rebounds a night. Shay Rollins closely follows with 11 points a game and a team-leading 63 assists. Nickie Warren leads the Dons on the glass with 6.4 boards per tilt.

Versus The Dons: Thursday's matchup will mark the 43rd meeting between the two programs. The Gaels have a 22-20 advantage after taking the first meeting of the season by the score of 84-77 from McKeon Pavilion. The Gaels won in San Francisco last season by the score of 68-63.

Scouting San Diego: The University of San Diego women's basketball team (19-5, 8-2 WCC) will look to capture their 20th win of the season as the close out their home portion of the schedule this week. On Thursday, the Toreros will host Santa Clara University before the Gaels come to town. As a team, the Toreros are leading the conference in scoring defense, just allowing 58.1 points per game, first in steals at 9.83 per game and are third in assists per game at 14.54. USD is leading the WCC in field goal percentage at .393 as and is second in team three-point field goal percentage at .335.

Amanda Rego leads the WCC in both assists per game (7.9), steals per game (2.75) and is second in assists to turnover ration at 2.00. Amber Sprague is fourth in the WCC in points per game at 14.2, second in blocked shots at 2.04 per game and leading the WCC in rebounds per game at 8.1. Sabine Loewe is second in field goal percentage at .521.

Versus the Toreros: The two programs have met 41 times with the Gaels holding a 31-10 advantage. Earlier this season USD defeated SMC by the score of 85-53. The Gaels last won in San Diego in 2005 by the score of 75-59.

Conference Race: Gonzaga and San Diego sit atop the conference but behind the two front-runners, four teams vie for the third spot. LMU currently sits in third with a 6-5 mark while Santa Clara and Saint Mary's are even at 5-5. Pepperdine has gotten back into the race with a 5-6 record.

Double The Fun: Saint Mary's forwards Maija Lahde and Eghosa Obaiza turned in double-doubles for the Gaels against Portland. Lahde scored 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds while Obaiza tallied 14 points and tied a career-high with 11 rebounds.

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 12 times this season, including six 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 44 and 23, respectively. Smith is fourth overall and first in league in 3-point field goal percentage with a 39 percent and 48 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 15.30 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 3.52 per game. Maija Lahde is third in offensive rebounds with 2.70 per game.

Turned Away: Saint Mary's is second in the WCC with 4.35 blocked shots per contest. The Gaels are led by Eghosa Obaiza and her 1.65 blocks a game which ranks third in the conference. Senior center Sheridan Arredondo ranks sixth with 1.30.

Ball Thieves: The Gaels rank second in the WCC with 9.65 steals per contest. Saint Mary's is led by junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy and her 2.55 steals per game which is second in the league. Obaiza ranks 11th with 1.48 steals while Maija Lahde checks in at 12th with 1.39 steals per game.

Helping Out: Saint Mary's junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy is second in the WCC in assists with 5.09 helpers per game. Shaugnessy has kept good care of the ball as well as her 2.80 assists/turnover ratio leads the league overall and her 4.17 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 conclude its regular season at home with two games. The Gaels will face Pepperdine on Thursday, February 22 at 7:05 p.m. and then close the door on the homestand with senior day against LMU on Saturday, February 24 at 2:05 p.m. Both games will be played in McKeon Pavilion.