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Women's Basketball Hosts SDSU in Home Opener

Nov. 14, 2007

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What's on ScheduleThe Gaels will play their home opener of the 2007-08 season against the San Diego State Aztecs on Saturday, November 17 at 2:05 PM.

Scouting the AztecsThe Aztecs are 1-0 so far this season, as they defeated Nevada last Sunday 67-61. SDSU was led by sophomore Quenese Davis with 17 points in the game. Two freshman posted double-digits in points, as Paris Johnson and Allison Duffy recorded 16 and 14 points respectively.

The Aztecs finished the 2006-07 season with a 12-16 overall record and 5-11 in the Mountain West Conference. SDSU returns four starters from their 2006-07 campaign, including the second leading scorer, Shannon Clay. Clay averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds last year.

Saint Mary's Versus San Diego StateThe Gaels are 3-1 in the series against the Aztecs. The two teams last faced each other in 2006, when SDSU came up with a 62-57 win over the Gaels. The Gaels last win against the Aztecs came in 2003, defeating SDSU in San Diego 52-47.

Head Coach Beth BurnsBuilding a successful basketball program is nothing new to head coach Beth Burns. From 1989-97, Burns took the Aztecs full circle, going from 7-23 her first year to 23-7 in her final campaign. Along the way, she compiled a 151-83 record and a 64.5 winning percentage, the best in school history.

After an eight-year absence, she officially returned to Montezuma Mesa on April 8, 2005.In her first stint as head coach, Burns' impact was almost instantaneous. The Aztecs doubled their win total from her first to her second season and ushered in the school's move to the Western Athletic Conference with a 14-14 overall record.

SDSU advanced to the 1993 NCAAs with the help of early season victories over the likes of UCLA, USC, St. John's, Oregon State, Georgia and Villanova. The Aztecs also tied for second in the final WAC regular-season standings, which at the time, was the program's best-ever conference finish.

In all, Burns led SDSU to four, 20-plus win seasons and four NCAA tournament appearances (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997).

Saint Mary's in Waco, TXThe Saint Mary's women's basketball team came out of Waco, TX with a 2-1 record to start the season. The Gaels defeated Prairie View and Howard, but lost to the No. 15 ranked Baylor Bears in their second game of the tournament.

The Gaels came out strong in their first game of the Basketball Traveler's Tip-Off Tournament, defeating the Prairie View Panthers 87-80. The Gaels were led by junior Jontelle Smith in the win, as she posted a season-high 21 points. The next night out, Saint Mary's was unable to find their rythm against #15 Baylor. The Gaels were called for 41 fouls, slowing down their usual uptempo style of play. Baylor defeated the Gaels 101-47. Coach Thomas' Gaels showed a lot of discipline and hardwork in their next appearance, as they went on to defeat Howard 87-65. Maija Lahde set the tone, recording 19 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. With the win the Gaels improved to 2-1 on the year.

Last Time OutWaco, TX - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team took down the Howard Bison, 87-65, in their final game of the Basketball Traveler's Tip-Off. The Gaels came out ready to play, as they took a 20-0 lead over the Bison in the first seven minutes. Senior forward Maija Lahde led the way for Saint Mary's, as she scored a game-high 19 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, passed out eight assists, and picked up four steals.

"I think it is a step in the right direction for our team to travel half way across the country, play three very good teams, and come out with two wins," said head coach Paul Thomas. "We asked Maija to come out with a higher level of intensity and focus and she responded with two assists shy of a triple-double. I am a very proud of her performance today."

The Gaels began the game with their full court press in full effect, keeping the Bison from scoring until 12:32 left in the first half. Lahde and Serena Benavente chipped in five points apiece, while four other Gaels contributed to the 20-0 Gael run. Asha Santee would end the drought for the Bison, hitting a jumper with 12.32 left to go in the first half.

Saint Mary's full court press would continue to bother the Bison's offense, keeping Howard to 33 percent shooting percentage from the floor. The Gaels would end the first half with a 16-point advantage. Saint Mary's scored 20 points in the paint in the first half to Howard's eight. The Gaels did a good job of capitalizing on their defense pressure, scoring 28 points off Bison turnovers.

Lahde recorded nine points, five assists, and four boards in the first half. Tomlinson and Shaughnessy added eight apiece for the Gaels, while Benevente and Smith chipped in seven and six respectively.

The Gaels would not let up in the second half, as they continued to cause Howard problems offensively. Lahde would score the first Gael points of the second half, followed by a Shaughnessy lay-up. Saint Mary's would hold onto their lead the rest of the way out, defeating the Howard Bison 87-65.

Aggressive defensive pressure forced the Bison into 32 turnovers in the game, while the Gaels picked up 11 steals. Saint Mary's was 26-of-67 from the floor, shooting 43.8% for the game. Lahde led the team in points, rebounds, and assists in 25 minutes of action.

Saint Mary's women's basketball returns to action on Saturday, November 17 at 2:05 PM in McKeon Pavilion. The Gaels will host the visiting San Diego State Aztecs, in their true home opener of the 2007-08 season.

Lahde WCC Player of the WeekSaint Mary's Maija Lahde enjoyed an outstanding opening weekend to the 2007-08 season, leading the Gaels to a 2-1 record at the Basketball Traveler's Classic in Waco, TX. The senior posted solid all-around numbers, averaging 11.0 points and 6.7 rebounds through three games, and shooting .438 (14-for-32) percent from the floor. Lahde pitched in 10 points in a win over Prairie View A&M on Friday, before scoring a game-high 19 points with 12 boards in Sunday's 87-65 victory over Howard. The native of Finland was just two assists shy of a triple-double in Sunday's win.

Smith Garners All-TournamentJunior Jontelle Smith earned all-tournament accolades after her stellar performance at the Basketball Traveler's Tip-Off Tournament. The 5-5 junior guard averaged 13.7 points per game, while also chipping in 11 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Smith tied her career-high five three pointers against Prairie View in the opening game of the tournament. The junior guard went 8-of-22 from behind the arc and 13-of-19 from the charity stripe in the tournament.

Smith's weekend numbers has put her second in the WCC in three-point field goals made, as she has drained eight from behind the arc thus far for a 2.67 per game average.

New Kid on the BlockFreshman Louella Tomlinson has recorded 10 blocks this season. The Australian native picked up a game-high five blocks in her first game as a Gael against the Prairie View Panthers on November 9. The freshman forward had one block against #15 Baylor, and added four more to her total against the Howard Bison. Tomlinson's five blocks is tied for the most blocks in a game in Gael record books, with Pia Paivio and Melissa Schreiner. The freshman is on pace to beat the most blocks in a season, which is held by Pia Paivio with 50 in 1992-93. Tomlinson currently ranks second in the WCC in blocks per game (3.3 bpg), and has helped the Gaels to first place in blocking as a team, averaging 5.0 per contest.

Lahde All-AroundThe Gaels' senior forward, Maija Lahde, currenlty ranks in the Top-10 of the WCC in six different categories. Lahde's highest ranking comes with her assist count, placing second in the WCC as she averages 4.0 assists per game. The Finland native ranks fourth in steals per game, with 3.00 per contest, and fourth in assist to turnover ratio, with a ratio of 1.33. Lahde ranks 10th in total rebounding, offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding, with 6.7, 2.67 and 4.0 rebounds per game respectively.

The Fast and the FuriousThe Gaels uptempo style of basketball has certainly paid off, as Saint Mary's ranks second in the WCC in scoring offense. The team has averaged 73.7 points in thier first three games of the season.

Saint Mary's full-court press has also posed problems for their opponents. The Gaels have forced 72 tunrovers thus far, including a season-high 32 against the Howard Bison on November 11.

Gael CoverageThis season Saint Mary's athletics is bringing fans more media coverage for women's basketball games than ever before. All of the women's basketball games this season will air live on the radio at SMCGaels.com.

From Texas to Utah, Gael fans will have access to game play-by-plays, post game interviews, and more, free at www.SMCGaels.com. To access the feature, go to the women's basketball schedule online at www.SMCGaels.com, click on the game you are interested in, and click the "Listen" link listed on each game's information.

In addition to radio coverage, fans will have the opportunity to watch the Gaels live at any home game, via an internet streaming package available at www.SMCGaels.com. To access the live video streaming, fans must sign up by clicking on the "Gael All Access" button located in the upper right hand corner of the www.SMCGaels.com home page.

"On behalf of the players and coaching staff we appreciate the fact that GaelVision is making commitment to broadcasting all of our home games," stated head coach Paul Thomas. "The coverage is very important to us as a program; it enhances the experience for our international student athletes' family and friends, while allowing our fan base to expand throughout the country."

Through CSTV fans can sign-up for three different packages; $6.99 for a month of Gael coverage, $49.95 for a year of Gael coverage, or $119.95 for a year of coverage for all CSTV sponsored schools. By signing up for one of these three packages fans can watch all of the women's basketball games held in McKeon Pavilion.

Gaels Picked 5th in WCC Pre-SeasonThe Gaels were picked to finish fifth in the West Coast Conference Pre-Season Coaches Poll. Saint Mary's returns four of five starters, including WCC First team Selection Jontelle Smith. Joining Smith are seniors Maija Lahde, an honorable mention pick, Serena Benavente, and Lauren Shaughnessy. San Diego was picked to finish first in the conference with four first place votes, while Gonzaga received three first place votes.

2006-07 All-WCC ReturneesFor Smith and Lahde it marks the second consecutive season that the duo earned all-conference status. Smith was named to the all-freshman and honorable mention squads while Lahde joined Smith on the honorable mention list.

Smith led the Gaels in scoring overall and in conference play. The sophomore tallied 11.9 points over the course of the season and paced SMC with 12.4 points during conference play.

The Pinole native was second during WCC games in three point field goal percentage with a .431 mark. Smith was third in three point field goals made with 28. Smith poured in 20 points at Pepperdine with four threes on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor.

Lahde put together her best season as a Gael. The Finland native averaged 10 points and 6.9 rebounds per game overall and 8.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per conference game. The 7.9 rebounds led the team and ranked third in the conference.

The junior recorded two double-double in conference play, including a 10 point, 16 rebound performance against Portland. The 16 rebounds was a career-high and followed a 15 board performance the game before.

"The Breakfast Club"Saint Mary's head women's basketball coach Paul Thomas announced the new Coach Thomas Breakfast Club schedule. The club will now meet at Roncalli Hall in the Founder's Dining Room on the Saint Mary's campus.

This is your opportunity to get the inside scoop on the women's basketball program. Coach Thomas will talk about upcoming games, and what the Gaels need to do to be successful. Player guests and door prizes will also be a part of the event. The cost of the breakfast is $5 per person and includes eggs, sausage/bacon, toast, potatoes and juice/coffee. All fans, alumni and friends of the college are welcome.

Eight dates have been set, with all breakfast times slated for 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. The first breakfast is scheduled for November 13 and will continue until the last meeting on March 4, 2008.

Aussie LoveSaint Mary's women's basketball signee Louella Tomlinson was rated one of the top female players at the U-21 level in Australia. Tomlinson garnered second-team recognition and received votes for MVP honors by Aussiebasketball.com.

Fourth Place FinishThe Gaels were slated to finish in fifth place according to the 2006 preseason coaches poll. In just his first season Paul Thomas led the Gaels to a fourth place finish in 2007 and its finest conference record since 2001-02.

Coming Up NextThe Gaels return to action when they host the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic. The Gaels will first face Yale November 23 at 7:05 PM, and will play the winner of Boise State and CSU Bakersfield on November 24 at 7:05 PM.