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Big Tests vs. Big West

Nov. 15, 2007

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With a week's play already under its belt, LMU enters the second week of competition against a pair of Big West Conference foes. First, the Lions close out their season-opening three-game road trip on Thursday at Long Beach State. Then it is finally back home for the team's first regular season appearance at Gersten Pavilion against UC Santa Barbara, a team that has made the postseason for 13 consecutive seasons.

Follow The Lions Live On The Web!
Angela Kiel and Patrick Duggan return as the voices of Lion's women's basketball on Lions All-Access this season. For the fourth straight season, all LMU women's basketball games will be broadcast live on www.LMULions.com.Loyola Marymount University, in conjunction with Stretch Internet, is proud to present, FREE, live audio broadcasts over the World Wide Web on www.LMULions.com. Just click on the "Listen" or "Archive" link next to the game of your choice (you will be automatically directed to download QuickTime if it's not yet installed on your computer). All broadcasts will be archived within 72 hours of their original airing and will include both the pre-game and post-game shows.All home games will be available live on Gametracker through the LMU website.

Media Guide
The 2007-08 LMU women's basketball media guide is available for download at www.lmulions.com. Copies may also be purchased for $15 from the LMU Media Relations Office.

About Long Beach State (0-1)
Long Beach State also traveled to Las Vegas last week to take on UNLV, dropping a 73-57 decision on Friday night. Preseason All-Big West selection Karina Figueroa paced the 49er attack with 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Valeriya Musina and Lauren Sims also scored in double figures, netting 13 and 11 points, respectively.Mary Hegarty is in her fifth season at Long Beach, posting a 60-59 record. She has a 15-year coaching mark of 220-151. Last season, LBSU went 9-23 overall and finished sixth in the Big West with a 4-10 record. They finished the season strong, however, posting back-to-back upsets to reach the Big West Tournament semi-finals.LMU leads the all-time series 7-3, having won the last seven in a row. They last met on November 21, 2006 in Gersten Pavilion, where the Lions held the 49ers to just nine second-half points en route to a 61-38 victory.

About UC Santa Barbara (1-1)
UC Santa Barbara had a wild weekend, losing its season opener 61-50 to BYU before beating USC 69-63 in overtime. In Friday's opener, Jessica Wilson had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds but the Cougars finished the first half on an 18-4 run and never looked back.Sunday's game against USC provided a dramatic finish. Trailing 50-37 with just five minutes to play, the Gauchos mounted a comeback, seemingly winning it on Wilson's three-pointer at the regulation buzzer. Instead, the refs ruled that Wilson's foot was on the line, sending the game into overtime, where the Gauchos opened with a 9-0 run. Sha'Rae Gibbons had 19 points to lead UCSB, followed by Kat Suderman with 16 and Wilson with 10.UCSB heads to Arizona State on Saturday before visiting LMU Monday.Head Coach Mark French is the winningest active coach in the Big West, having posted a record of 416-193 at UCSB in 20 seasons. He is 514-307 in 28 total seasons as a head coach. He has led the Gauchos to 13 consecutive postseason appearances, including two straight WNIT berths. Last year was the first time in 12 seasons that UCSB did not clinch at least a share of the conference crown, going 19-14 overall and finishing second with a 10-4 mark. They advanced to the WNIT, beating San Diego in the first round before falling to Oregon in the second.UCSB leads the all-time series 9-4 but the Lions have won the last three meetings. Last year, LMU went up to Santa Barbara and came home with a 63-58 victory behind 18 points from Amanda DeCoud.

Last Week Recap: Lions Open 2007-08 Season with Road Split
LMU split its season-opening road trip last week to Boise State and UNLV. In Friday's opener in Boise, senior Valerie Ogoke posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead three Lions in double figure scoring but the Lions were undone by 26 turnovers in a tight 71-67 defeat. LMU jumped out to an early 8-0 lead but BSU used a 13-0 run in the second half to go ahead 61-50 with eight minutes left. The Lions would get no closer than five the rest of the way. Junior Cassady Moore also had 12 points to tie for the team-high while freshman Renahy Young contributed 11 points off the bench in her collegiate debut. Redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans also had a fine debut, pulling down 10 rebounds to go along with six points.The Lions bounced back with a dramatic 61-59 victory on Sunday in Las Vegas. LMU led by as many as 11 in the first half but went cold in the second, missing 14 of its first 17 shots as UNLV slowly climbed back in. The Rebels took a three-point lead with three minutes to go but sophomore Lisa Helmers knocked down a huge three with 94 seconds remaining to tie it. After Moore's layup with 44 seconds left put LMU ahead, the Rebels tied it up again with five seconds remaining. Instead of calling timeout, the Lions inbounded to senior Amanda DeCoud, who dribbled the length of the floor and tossed in a running floater from the baseline as time expired for the buzzer-beating win. Moore had a team-high 12 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Evans added a game-high 12 rebounds with six points as nine of the ten Lions who played scored by halftime.

Lions in Home Openers
Monday's visit by UC Santa Barbara marks LMU's first home contest of the 2007-08 season. The Lions have won seven of their last eight home openers and are 8-4 in their home debuts under Julie Wilhoit.

Lions in Season Openers
For the fifth consecutive season, LMU opened its campaign away from Gersten Pavilion. The loss on Friday at Boise State was the fifth in a row to start the season and ran the Lions' losing streak when starting the year on the road to nine games.

Monsters on the Boards
One noticeable difference through the first two games between the 2007-08 Lions and their predecessors is evident in the rebounding category. Last season, LMU averaged 37 rebounds a game and a shade under 13 offensive rebounds a game. Already this season they have bumped those numbers up to 46 total rebounds (which leads the WCC) and 15 offensive rebounds. A big reason for the increase has been the play of senior Valerie Ogoke and redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans. The duo is combining for 20 rebounds per game, with Evans leading the conference at 11.0 rpg. Ogoke is tied for fourth at 9.0 rpg.

Gimme Moore
Junior Cassady Moore has taken her starting spot and ran with it, literally. Moore is the only Lion to have scored in double figures in both games, having netted 12 at both Boise State and UNLV. Those numbers have almost doubled her scoring average of 6.4 ppg from last season and nearly tripled her career scoring average of 4.4. The key to Moore's offensive explosion has been her defense. Moore is tied for fourth in steals per game with 3.00. Her quickness at the defensive end has led to numerous fastbreak opportunities and easy baskets.Proving that she is multi-dimensional, Moore is also leading the Lions in assists (3.5 per game), is pulling down 3.5 rebounds per game, and shooting 45.0% from the floor, tops among guards on the team.

Helmers Hits Threes
If you're looking for the biggest jump in scoring average from last season, that achievement belongs to sophomore Lisa Helmers. After averaging 1.5 ppg in 25 appearances off the bench as a freshman, Helmers has started both games thus far and is tied for second on the team with 9.0 ppg, a 400% increase from last year. Her back-to-back nine point outings tie for her career-high. All 18 of her points have come from long range as she is proving to be a viable threat from downtown, shooting 40%. Her biggest shot came on Sunday at UNLV, when she knocked down a three with 1:34 left to tie the game.

New Kid on the Block
Redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans has made the most of her opportunities after sitting out last season. In her first two games in the Lion uniform, Evans is averaging 6.0 ppg and a WCC-high 11.0 rpg. In her collegiate debut at Boise State, Evans tied for the game-high with 10 rebounds in just 16 minutes off the bench. That was enough to earn her first career start on Sunday at UNLV. She responded with 12 boards and her second straight six-point outing.

Most Val-uable
Senior Valerie Ogoke is breaking out of the shadow of the departed Ashlee Dunlap and Jennifer Hall. Given an increased role in the guard-oriented Lion offense, Ogoke had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes in the season opener at Boise State. That was followed by six points and eight rebounds (four offensive) in just 24 minutes at UNLV. She is second on the team in both scoring and rebounding at 9.0 apiece.

Don't Forget About Mandy
The cog that keeps the Lion offense and defense rolling continues to be senior Amanda DeCoud. The reigning WCC Defender of the Year is averaging 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game in a team-high 31.0 minutes per game. Her contributions have been seen in other ways, however, as she had a crucial steal in the final minute at UNLV before playing the role of heroine. DeCoud's full-court dash and layup at the buzzer against the Rebels gave the Lions their first victory of 2007-08.DeCoud is tied for fifth in the WCC in assists per game with 3.0 and continues to climb the LMU career steals chart. Her 168 put her in eighth place.

Freshmen No Slouches
Coach Wilhoit said they were athletic and would contribute right away and she is right. Freshmen Renahy Young and Melanie Ysaguirre have each come off the bench to give the Lions solid minutes in their collegiate debuts.At Boise State, Young had 11 points, four rebounds, and two assists in 22 minutes. She showed her aggressiveness from the get-go, getting to the free throw line a game-high seven times. Such is the life of a freshman, she only had two points (both from the stripe) in 12 minutes at UNLV but has shown to be a useful contributor for the guard-heavy Lions.At her current pace, Ysaguirre will shatter the school record for shooting percentage in a season as she is off to a blistering 85.7% clip to start, going 6-for-7 from the floor in the season's first two games. Ysaguirre had four points and an offensive rebound in seven minutes at Boise State, finding herself in the right place to keep LMU close with a pair of layups. The coaches trusted her enough to have her on the court down the stretch at UNLV, where her layup with five minutes left put the Lions ahead in a see-saw battle. She is averaging 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in just 10.0 minutes per game.

Jess Doin' Her Thing
One of the key components to the high-tempo offense and defense for LMU is its guard depth. Another player who demonstrates that long bench is sophomore Jessica Vargas. Vargas averaged 1.7 points in 9.1 rebounds per game as a freshman but came on strong down the stretch to help the Lions to the WCC Championship game. This season, she is off to another fine start, putting up 6.0 ppg and 3.0 rpg while shooting 41.7% from the floor, second among guards. She is doing all of this in limited action - just 16.5 minutes per game.

How Deep is the Lions' Den?
Through two games, ten of the 13 healthy players on the roster have played in both games and nine have scored. At Boise State, nine of the 11 players who entered the game scored, while the Lions got a jump early at UNLV, with nine of the 10 getting on the scoresheet before halftime.

Lions Prove You CAN Go Home Again
The 2007-08 LMU roster features six players from outside California, four of which will get the pleasure of a road trip to their hometown this season. First up is redshirt freshman Maggie Burkett, who returns to her native Boise on Nov. 9 having claimed the Idaho Player of the Year award two years ago. Next to return home is sophomore Jessica Vargas when LMU visits Northern Arizona in Flagstaff on Dec. 2. Finally, senior Bronwyn Evans and freshman Lauren Wilkins will return to Portland on Jan. 10.

Schedule Offers Top Competition
LMU's 2007-08 schedule will be fraught with tests as the Lions could face eight teams that made the 2007 postseason. The difficult schedule begins right away as LMU opens at WAC champions and NCAA First Rounders Boise State. Also slated from the NCAA Tournament are Cal (away Nov. 28), George Washington (away, Dec. 18), and Gonzaga (away Jan. 12, home Feb. 7). The Lions will also square off against WNIT squads UC Santa Barbara (home Nov. 19), Jackson State (home Nov. 23), and San Diego (away Jan. 31, home March 1). Another possible WNIT Tournament opponent looms in Kansas State.

Pair of Home Tournaments on the Docket
For the first time since 2003-04, LMU will be the site of two non-conference tournaments as the Lions host the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament and the Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament. Now in its 11th year, the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Classic will be held November 23-24 and features Indiana State, San Diego State, and LMU's first-round opponents, Jackson State. Previous tournament champions include North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA, Texas A&M, and LMU, who won in 2001, 2002, and 2003.LMU will also host a tournament over the winter break when the Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament invades Gersten on December 28-29. This year's lineup features Arkansas-Little Rock, Kansas State, and Cal State Bakersfield.