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Women's Basketball Prepares For West Coast Conference Tournament

Feb. 28, 2007

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This Week In Women's Basketball: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (14-13, 8-6 WCC) will open the West Coast Conference Tournament against the Pepperdine Waves (13-16, 6-8 WCC) in the late game on Thursday, March 1. The Gaels earned the fourth seed and will face the fifth-seeded Waves. All tournament games will be played from the Chiles Center in Portland, OR.

Last Time Out: Saint Mary's split its final two games of the regular season with a 70-64 win over Pepperdine and a 76-61 loss to LMU. Juniors Maija Lahde and Serena Benavente poured in career nights. Lahde tallied 22 against Pepperdine while Benavente matched that with 22 against LMU.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's junior forward Maija Lahde tallied a career-high 22 points against Pepperdine on Feb. 22. The Finland native shot 6-of-12 from the floor and a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown. Lahde grabbed nine rebounds and had a career-best seven steals.

Scouting Pepperdine: The Waves head to Portland with a 13-16 overall record and 6-8 conference mark. Pepperdine fell to the Gaels in its Northern California road trip opener but then defeated Santa Clara to close out the regular season. The Waves won five of its last eight games and are shooting 40 percent from the floor and 31 percent from three.

The Waves are led by Teiosha George and Daphanie Kennedy. George paces the Waves with 10.5 points per game while also grabbing 6.8 boards per night. Kennedy follows with 10.4 per game and 3.7 boards a night. Teena Wickett earned All-WCC First-Team recognition after pouring in 9.9 points and team-leading 7.2 rebounds.

Versus The Waves: Thursday's matchup will mark the 44th meeting between the two programs. The Gaels hold a 22-2 all-time advantage. The Gaels defeated the Waves in the last weekend of the regular season with a 70-64 win. The Waves have ended the last two seasons for the Gaels in the West Coast Conference Tournament.

Fourth Place Finish: The Gaels were slated to finish in fifth place according to the preseason coaches poll. In just his first season Paul Thomas led the Gaels to a fourth place finish and its finest conference record since 2001-02.

Conference Accolades: Saint Mary's sophomore guard Jontelle Smith was named to the All-WCC First-Team after leading the Gaels in scoring. Junior Maija Lahde was tabbed honorable mention after recording 10 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

All-Academic: Saint Mary's junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy and senior forward Eghosa Obaiza were named to the All-WCC All-Academic Team. Shaughnessy is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology while Obaiza studies in Sociology/Anthropology.

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 68.5 per game. The Gaels erupted for 100 points against Northridge in the Hilton Concord Classic and 95 against Toledo. SMC has eclipsed 70 points 13 times this season, including seven games during conference play.

Sharpshooter: Sophomore guard Jontelle Smith has been heating up from beyond the arc and is one of the hottest shooters from three during conference play. Smith is fourth overall and third in league play in 3-point field goals made with 49 and 28, respectively. Smith is third overall and second in league in 3-point field goal percentage with a 38 percent and 43 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 39.7 per game. SMC also leads in offensive rebounds, pulling down 14.15 a contest. Senior forward Eghosa Obaiza is third in the league with 7.6 boards per game and leads the league on the offensive glass with 3.44 per game. Maija Lahde is fifth overall in rebounds with 6.9 per contest.

Turned Away: Saint Mary's is second in the WCC with 4.22 blocked shots per contest. The Gaels are led by Eghosa Obaiza and her 1.63 blocks a game which ranks thid in the conference. Senior center Sheridan Arredondo ranks sixth with 1.22.

Ball Thieves: The Gaels rank third in the WCC with 9.00 steals per contest. Saint Mary's is led by junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy and her 2.32 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 5.12 helpers per game. Shaugnessy has kept good care of the ball as well as her 2.78 assists/turnover ratio leads the league overall and her 3.67 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.