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Women's Basketball Returns Home For Two Pivotal Games

Feb. 21, 2007

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This Week In Women's Basketball: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (13-12, 7-5 WCC) will conclude its regular season slate at home with two games. The Gaels will begin the week on Thursday, February 22 against the Pepperdine Waves (12-15, 5-7 WCC) at 7:05 p.m. SMC will then host LMU (15-11, 7-5 WCC) on Saturday, February 24 for senior day. Both games will be played in McKeon Pavilion.

Last Time Out: Saint Mary's took care of business on the road with two impressive victories. The Gaels earned their first week sweep with a 61-51 victory over San Francisco and a 51-47 win against San Diego. With the two wins the Gaels remained in a tie with LMU in third place in the West Coast Conference standings.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's junior guard Serena Benavente led the Gaels to a perfect 2-0 week on the road, including a 51-47 thriller over a 20-win San Diego team. The junior played the entire 40 minutes for the shorthanded Gaels, pouring in 13 points and grabbing a game-high eight rebounds. The Seaside native was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe with some key makes in the waning moments to seal the win for SMC

Scouting Pepperdine: The Waves enter Moraga with a 12-15 overall record and 5-7 mark in conference play. Pepperdine has won four of its last six WCC games as the health of the team has improved. The Waves fell to the Lions at home by the score 63-52.

The Waves are led by junior Daphanie Kennedy and Teena Wickett. Kennedy paces Pepperdine with 10.9 points and chips in with 4.0 rebounds. Wickett follows with 10 points and a team-leading 7.1 rebounds. Nakeya Isabell leads the squad with 89 assists.

Versus The Waves: Thursday's matchup will mark the 43rd meeting between the two programs. The Gaels and Waves are locked at a 21-21 all-time mark. The two teams met in Malibu in where the Waves pulled out a 76-73 victory. SMC defeated Pepperdine at home last season by the score of 58-54.

Scouting LMU: The Lions will face the Santa Clara Broncos on Thursday before heading north to Moraga for a Saturday matinee. LMU has also won four of its last six, stringing together two in a row. The Lions are shooting 40 percent from the floor, 32 percent from three and 71 percent from the charity stripe.

Jennifer Hall and Amanda Patten lead the team in scoring. Hall paces the Lions with 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Patton follows with 11.3 points and 3.5 rebounds. Amanda DeCoud has handed out 84 assists and chips in 8.8 per tilt.

Versus the Lions: The two programs have met 42 times with the Gaels holding a 30-12 advantage. Earlier this season the Gaels downed the Lions in Los Angeles by the score of 64-59. SMC fell at home last season to LMU by the score of 68-62.

Senior Day: Saturday's match-up against LMU will mark the final home game for three seniors. Eghosa Obaiza, Sheridan Arredondo and Victoria Ramirez will suit up for the last time in McKeon Pavilion. The trio has combined to play 248 games in a Gaels uniform.

Fast Start: Head coach Paul Thomas has the Gaels sitting at 7-5 in the conference. If SMC is to win one more conference game it will be the most WCC wins for the Gaels since the 2001-02 season when they went to the WNIT. The 13 wins eclipses last years win total of 12 with two regular season games remaining.

Conference Race: Gonzaga and San Diego sit atop the conference but behind the two front-runners, four teams vie for the third spot. Saint Mary's holds a 7-5 record along with LMU while Santa Clara and Pepperdine are knotted with a 5-7 mark.

Week Sweep: The Gaels earned their first conference weekly sweep on the season. SMC completed the sweep on the road with a 61-51 victory over San Francisco and a 51-47 win over San Diego. With the pair of victories the Gaels stay on track to secure the third spot in the conference standings.

Fast Pace Gaels: Saint Mary's is currently third the WCC in scoring, pouring in 68.8 per game. The Gaels erupted for 100 points against Northridge in the Hilton Concord Classic and 95 against Toledo. SMC has eclipsed 70 points 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 46 and 25, respectively. Smith is third overall and third in league in 3-point field goal percentage with a 39 percent and 46 percent mark, respectively. Smith is fourth overall from the charity stripe with an 82 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 15.12 a contest. Senior forward Eghosa Obaiza is third in the league with 7.5 boards per game and leads the league on the offensive glass with 3.40 per game. Maija Lahde is third in offensive rebounds with 2.60 per game.

Turned Away: Saint Mary's is second in the WCC with 4.20 blocked shots per contest. The Gaels are led by Eghosa Obaiza and her 1.60 blocks a game which ranks fourth in the conference. Senior center Sheridan Arredondo ranks sixth with 1.28.

Ball Thieves: The Gaels rank third in the WCC with 9.08 steals per contest. Saint Mary's is led by junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy and her 2.43 steals per game which is third in the league.

Helping Out: Saint Mary's junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy is second in the WCC in assists with 5.17 helpers per game. Shaugnessy has kept good care of the ball as well as her 2.77 assists/turnover ratio leads the league overall and her 3.80 ratio paces the league during WCC play. Her 5.17 assists per game ranks 29th in the nation.

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 head to Portland for the West Coast Conference tournament. The seedings will be released after the conclusion of all the regular season games. The first day of the tournament is set for Thursday, March 1 from the Chiles Center.