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Women's Basketball Opens Home Slate Against Miami

Nov. 16, 2006

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This Week In Women's Basketball:The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (0-1, 0-0 WCC) will play its first home game of the season against the University of Miami (3-0, 0-0 ACC) on Friday, November 17. The home opener marks the first McKeon Pavilion appearance for the 2006-07 Gaels and first year head coach Paul Thomas. Tip-off is slated for 7:05 p.m.

The contest against Miami is the first of four-straight home games for Saint Mary's. The Gaels will host the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic that will feature Missouri, Alabama and Cal State Northridge. After the tournament, SMC will remain home to host Utah State on Monday, November 27 at 7:05 p.m.

Who's Hot: In a team-high 33-minutes, junior forward Monica Mertle led the Gaels with 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting including a 2-for-3 mark from beyond the arc. Mertle was also perfect from the charity stripe (2-for-2) and grabbed four rebounds. The Windsor, CA native led the Gaels in scoring seven times last season.

Last Time Out: Saint Mary's suffered a 71-56 set-back against No. 21-ranked California on Sunday, November 12 from Haas Pavilion. The Gaels controlled the first 13-minutes and made a run early in the second but eventually fell to the nationally ranked Bears.

Junior forward Monica Mertle led the Gaels with 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting. Mertle also pulled down four rebounds and was 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. Junior forward Maija Lahde closely followed with 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Lahde also grabbed four boards and recorded three steals. In 14 minutes of action, senior forward Eghosa Obaiza tallied a game-high eight rebounds and four blocks.

The Gaels out-shot the Bears with a 40-percent showing compared to the 34-percent out-put by Cal. The Bears shot 37 free-throws and converted 31 for an 84-percent tally from the charity stripe.

Scouting Miami: The Hurricanes enter McKeon Pavilion after downing Santa Clara 85-83 in the Leavey Center. Miami shot 44-percent in the game and 50-percent from beyond the arc. The Hurricanes started the season by defeating Georgia State 68-60 and Wisconsin-Milwaukee 78-71.

Miami is averaging 77 points per game for a +5.7 scoring margin. The Hurricanes are shooting .426 from the floor, .367 from three and .641 from the charity stripe. Miami has out-rebounded its opponents by a 127-108 margin.

Individually, Renee Taylor has sparked the Hurricanes, averaging 22.3 points per tilt. Maurita Reid follows with 14 points per game while Brittany Denson averages 11.7 points and a team leading 10.3 rebounds per game. Albrey Grimsley leads the team with 11 assists while pouring in 9.7 points per game.

Versus Miami: The game against the Hurricanes will mark the first meeting between the two programs.

Gaels Stingy On Defense: Against the No. 21-ranked California Bears, the Gaels held the Pac-10 power to only 34-percent shooting. In the second half the Bears only shot 30-percent (7-for-23) from the floor.

SMC Bench Points: The Saint Mary's bench made a good showing in its first contest of the season. The Gaels out-scored the Bears 19-8 off the bench and were led by junior Lauren Shaughnessy's eight points. Freshman Sierra Chambers followed with six points off the pine.

Shaughnessy Returns: Saint Mary's junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy did not show ill effects from a year away from the game. In 26 minutes of action, the Bellevue, WA native tallied eight points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists.

Obaiza Gives Productive Minutes: Senior forward/center Eghosa Obaiza may have only tallied 14 minutes against Cal but the Sacramento, CA native grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and turned away four shots, also a game-high. Obaiza also tacked on three points and three steals.

WCC Rankings: After one week of play a few Gaels rank in the top five in the West Coast Conference. Senior Eghosa Obaiza ranks second in blocked shots per game with 4.00. She also is third in defensive rebounds per game with six, rebounding with eight and steals with three.

Junior Monica Mertle ranks tied for first with a perfect free throw percentage. She also ranks fourth in three-point percentage with a .667 mark and fifth in three pointers made with two. Junior guards Maija Lahde and Lauren Shaughnessy are tied for fifth in steals per game with three while junior guard Serena Benavente is third in assists per game with five.

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 host the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic on Friday, November 24-25. The Classic will feature Missouri, Alabama and Cal State Northridge. Missouri will square off against Alabama to start the Classic at 5:05 p.m. followed by SMC versus CSUN at 7:05 p.m. All games will played in McKeon Pavilion.