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Women's Basketball Opens WCC Tourney Against No. 4 Pepperdine

Feb. 28, 2006

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WHAT'S ON SCHEDULE: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team travels to Spokane, WA to participate in the 15th Annual West Coast Conference women's basketball tournament on the campus of Gonzaga University. The tournament begins on Thursday, March 2 will four games at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Saint Mary's earned the No. 5 seed and will face the No. 4 seed Pepperdine Waves at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

2006 WCC TOURNAMENT: The 15th annual West Coast Conference Women's Basketball Tournament will be held at the McCarthey Athletic Center on the campus of Gonzaga University. The Gaels finished in fifth place with a 7-7 record and earned the No. 5 seed. Here is how the rest of the tournament will be filled out. Santa Clara earned the No. 1 seed and will face No. 8 Portland at 6 p.m. on Thursday. No. 2 Gonzaga will face No. 7 San Francisco following the previous game. In the first session of the day, No. 3 Loyola Marymount will face No. 6 San Diego at noon, followed by No. 4 Pepperdine and No. 5 Saint Mary's at approximately 2 p.m.

WHO'S HOT: Saint Mary's freshman guard Jontelle Smith averaged 14.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game last week as the Gaels wrapped up the regular season with a 1-1 road trip, including a victory over Loyola Marymount. Smith scored 18 points, including going 4-of-5 from 3-point range against the Lions. In a loss to Pepperdine, Smith had 11 points, and went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Smith finished at the top of the WCC scoring list for freshman this year, averaging 12.1 points per game.

SMITH NAMED TO ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM: Saint Mary's freshman guard Jontelle Smith was named to the All-Freshman Team announced by the West Coast Conference on February 27. Smith is the third Gael to be named to the team in the past three years. Smith, a 5-5 guard from Pinole, CA, led the Gaels in scoring at 12.1 points per game, played in all 27 games, including 25 starts and was the top scoring freshman in the WCC, averaging 11.6 points per game. Current Gaels Serena Benavente and Monica Mertle were named to the first All-Freshman Team in 2003-04.

MERTLE NAMED TO ALL-ACADEMIC SQUAD: Saint Mary's sophomore forward Monica Mertle was named to the 2006 Winter All-Academic Team announced by the West Coast Conference on February 27. Mertle carries a 3.67 grade point average as an HPER major and is the only Gael on the squad. Mertle finished second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.2 points per game.

FOUR PLAYERS EARN HONORABLE MENTION: Saint Mary's had four players earn honorable mention on the All-Conference Team announced by the WCC on February 27. Sophomores Serena Benavente, Maija Lahde and Monica Mertle and freshman Jontelle Smith were all honored by the conference.

ASSISTING THE WAY: Saint Mary's sophomore guard Serena Benavente led the West Coast Conference in assists per game, marking the first time a Gael has led the conference since 2001. Benavente averaged 4.36 assists per game in 14 games and averaged 3.52 assists per game for the entire year. Benavente led both categories.

SAINT MARY'S RADIO COVERAGE: All Saint Mary's women's basketball games during the 2005-06 season can be heard on the Internet at www.SMCGaels.com. This week's WCC Tournament games can be heard live beginning at 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon against Pepperdine and all other games for the tournament, if the Gaels advance, will also be aired live, with Ryan Reggiani calling the game action.The Internet broadcast service is being offered through an agreement signed by College Sports and Real Networks at a cost of $6.95 per month. For that price, they receive a username and password that allows them access to all live/archived audio events on our site.

SCOUTING THE WAVES: Pepperdine comes into the West Coast Conference Tournament with an 11-16 overall record and finished fourth in the conference with an 8-6 mark. The Waves are led by two All-WCC players in Jasmane Clarendon and Daphanie Kennedy. Clarendon led the Waves during the conference season, averaging 11.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Kennedy averaged 11.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game after 14 contests. Kelsey Ball was named the WCC Defender of the Year, while averaging 9.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. As a team the Waves are averaging 63.1 points per game, while holding their opponents to 59.4 points.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS PEPPERDINE THE SERIES: The Gaels are 21-19 all-time against the Waves, including a 69-64 loss on February 23. Saint Mary's beat Pepperdine 58-54 earlier in the season at home. Last season Pepperdine ended the Gaels' season by beating them 57-49 in the first round of the WCC Tournament at Santa Clara.

JACOBY REACHES 90-WIN MARK: Saint Mary's head women's basketball coach Michelle Jacoby went over the 90 win mark for her career with a victory over San Francisco on January 14 and her career record now stands at 95-78. Jacoby is second on the career wins list at Saint Mary's, behind Terri Rubenstein and is in her sixth season as head coach.

WEEK IN REVIEW: Saint Mary's went 1-1 in its final regular season week. The Gaels lost at Pepperdine on Thursday and beat Loyola Marymount on Saturday. Saint Mary's beat the Lions in the final game of the season, and was led by Jontelle Smith, who scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Serena Benavente added 13 points, including 10-of-10 from the free throw line and Eghosa Obaiza and Erika Urmonaite each had eight points.Against Pepperdine in a loss, the Gaels were led by Monica Mertle, who scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Evynn Van Burger and Smith each added 11 points and Maija Lahde had 10 points and five rebounds.

HEAD COACH Michelle Jacoby: Michelle Jacoby enters her sixth season at the helm of the women's basketball program. The Gaels are coming off a 15-13 overall record and a 7-7 West Coast Conference mark in Jacoby's fifth season. Saint Mary's recorded a fourth place conference finish and Jacoby's all-time record now stands at 95-78, making her second all-time in wins at Saint Mary's College.The Gaels had another solid year under Jacoby and continued to be impressive at McKeon Pavilion, the home of the Gaels. Saint Mary's went 9-5 at home and finished in fourth place in the conference after being picked to finish in fourth place. The Gaels accomplished several goals last season, which included setting a preseason WNIT record for 3-pointers made in a game. The Gaels broke the record by making 14 3-pointers against No. 24 Arizona.