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Lions Host UCSB in Home Opener

Nov. 19, 2007

After three straight road games to open the 2007-08 season, LMU finally gets to return home, hosting UC Santa Barbara tonight. The Gauchos have made the postseason for 13 consecutive seasons, including the last two WNIT. The home stand continues at the end of the week when LMU hosts the 11th annual Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament, featuring another WNIT team in first round opponent Jackson State.

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 UC Santa Barbara (1-2)
UC Santa Barbara has faced three tough opponents to open the season, falling to BYU and #14 Arizona State and beating USC in overtime. On Saturday, the Gauchos traveled to Tempe, AZ, and a date with the Sun Devils. ASU jumped out to a 21-point halftime lead and never looked back in a 66-42 win. Jenna Green returned from a back injury that kept her out the first two games to score 12 points as the only Gaucho in double figures.With just one game under her belt, Green leads UCSB in scoring at 12.0 ppg. Sha'Rae Gibbons is also in double figures at 10.7 ppg with Jessica Wilson just behind at 9.0 ppg and a team-high 6.7 rpg.Head Coach Mark French is the winningest active coach in the Big West, having posted a record of 416-194 at UCSB in 20 seasons. He is 514-308 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 Ride Career Nights to 83-66 Win at Long Beach StateJunior Jenna Sybesma came off the bench for career-highs of 13 points, five rebounds, and four steals as LMU pulled away in the second half for an 83-66 victory over Long Beach State Thursday night at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, CA.LMU used a 16-0 run in the second half to open up as much as a 24-point advantage. The Lions held the 49ers without a basket for a seven-minute stretch to turn a 53-44 lead into a 69-44 cushion.In addition to Sybesma's career night, three other Lions also set career-bests in scoring. Senior Amanda DeCoud scored 19 points, sophomore Jessica Vargas had 11, and redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans contributed eight to surpass their previous bests. Evans also added eight rebounds and four blocks while DeCoud had four steals. Sophomore Kavita Goss and senior Valerie Ogoke chipped in nine points apiece.The Lions dominated the glass, grabbing 23 offensive boards to hold a 48-37 total advantage. LMU shot 42.1% for the game, compared to 36.2% for LBSU, and forced 22 turnovers. The 83 points are the most since LMU scored 85 against Colgate last December 29.Both teams got off to a frenetic pace at the start and the 49ers continued to roll, hitting five of its first six attempts as part of a 10-0 run for a 12-4 advantage with 17:55 left. The Lions came back through their defense, forcing four turnovers to mount an 11-0 run of their own to lead 15-12. Vargas and Sybesma each had four points during the run.Long Beach State slowly crawled back, pulling within 39-34 before Sybesma hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer to send the Lions into the half with a 41-34 lead. It was LMU's highest-scoring half since February 24.It did not take long for the Lions to restore their double-digit lead as Vargas drove for a layup and Ogoke had an offensive rebound-put back to make it 45-34 just 51 seconds into the second half. Sophomore Lisa Helmers followed with a deep three-pointer to complete a 9-0 run bridging halftime.Sybesma then took over, scoring six of LMU's next 10 points and making two steals as LMU opened up a 20-point advantage.

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.

Monsters on the Boards
One noticeable difference through the first three 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 46.7 total rebounds (which leads the WCC) and 17.7 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 18.3 rebounds per game, with Evans tied for the conference lead at 10.0 rpg. Ogoke is sixth at 8.3 rpg.

Gimme Moore
Junior Cassady Moore has taken her starting spot and ran with it, literally. Before sitting out the Long Beach State game, Moore was 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. She 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 all three games thus far and is tied for fifth on the team with 7.0 ppg, a 468% increase from last year. Her back-to-back nine point outings in the season's first two games tied for her career-high. All 21 of her points have come from long range as she is proving to be a viable threat from downtown, shooting 36.8%. 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. Evans has led the Lions in rebounding in each of her first three games in the LMU uniform and is tied for the WCC lead with 10.0 rpg. She is also doing it on the offensive end, shooting 50% and averaging 6.7 points per game. 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 at UNLV. She responded with 12 boards and her second straight six-point outing. Most recently, she had eight points, eight rebounds, and a career-high four blocked shots at Long Beach State.

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 and nine points, seven rebounds at Long Beach State. She is leading the team in offensive rebounds with 12, is second in rebounding at 8.3 per game, and third in scoring at 9.0 ppg.

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 broke out for a career-high 19 points on Thursday at Long Beach State, adding six rebounds, four steals, and three assists. For the year, she is averaging 10.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.3 steals per game in a team-high 31.0 minutes per game. 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 172 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. She has continued to average a solid 7.0 ppg, 2.3 steals per game, and 2.0 rpg.At her current pace, Ysaguirre will shatter the school record for shooting percentage in a season as she is off to a blistering 75.0% clip to start, going 6-for-8 from the floor in the season's first three games. Ysaguirre is averaging 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 8.7 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. Subbing for the injured Moore at Long Beach State, Vargas responded with career-highs of 11 points and seven rebounds (five offensive) in her first career start. After averaging 1.7 points in 9.1 minutes per game as a freshman, she is off to a fine start, putting up 7.7 ppg and 4.3 rpg while shooting 55.6% from the floor, tops among guards, and has doubled her playing time to 18.3 minutes per game.

My Kinda Game
That's what junior Jenna Sybesma was thinking on Thursday at Long Beach State when she set career-highs with 13 points (on 6-for-10 shooting), five rebounds, and four steals in 22 minutes off the bench. She has done well to give the Lions another option down low, averaging 6.3 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 45% from the floor.

How Deep is the Lions' Den?
Through three games, 12 of the 13 healthy players on the roster have played and 11 have scored.

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.