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Women's Basketball Set To Face Utah State

Nov. 27, 2006

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Women's Basketball Game Day: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (2-2, 0-0 WCC) will continue its homestand against the Utah State Aggies. The Gaels will host the Aggies (1-2) on Monday, November 27 at 7:05 p.m. from McKeon Pavilion. SMC will then head to Eugene, OR to face the Oregon Ducks (3-1) on Thursday, November 30 at 7 p.m. from McArthur Court.

Hilton Concord Classic Recap: Four teams were put to the test right after Thanksgiving but it was the Missouri Tigers who pulled out the classic title. Saint Mary's fell in the finale 79-64 to a tough 5-1 Mizzou team. The Gaels recorded a 100-91 barnburner victory over Cal State Northridge to open classic play. Alabama fell to Missouri in the opener and then defeated Northridge in the consolation game.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's junior forward Maija Lahde was one of three Gaels to record a career-high against Northridge. Lahde paced the Gaels to a 100 point outburst against Cal State Northridge to open the Hilton Concord Classic. The junior forward tallied a career-high 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting. In addition to the career high in points, Lahde added five rebounds, two blocks, steals and assists. The next night, the Espoo, Finland native nearly missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds while again adding two helpers.

Scouting Utah State: The Aggies (1-2) will open a five-game road swing with the first stop slated in Moraga. USU is coming off a 72-55 defeat to Weber State in its last time out. Prior to Weber State, Utah State recorded its lone victory on the season in an exciting 85-83 win against Idaho State at home.

The Aggies are averaging 66.7 points per game while allowing their opponents to drop in 74.3 per tilt. On the floor, USU is only shooting .365 while its opponents are shooting an alarming .519. On the glass, the Aggies have been out-rebounded by a 114-101 margin. Utah State is shooting a solid .854 from the charity stripe.

Individually the Aggies are led by Taylor Richards and Brittany Phillips. Richards leads the team with 13.7 points per game while adding three rebounds per tilt and a seven steals. Phillips is pouring in 12.7 per night while grabbing a team-high 5.3 boards per game. Danyelle Snelgro is averaging 10 points per game while handing out seven helpers.

Versus Utah State: The game on Monday night will mark the first meeting between the two programs.

Scouting Oregon: The Ducks (3-1) will face West Coast Conference foe Portland on Tuesday before hosting the Gaels on Thursday. Oregon is coming off a split in its own Thanksgiving Tournament. The Ducks fell to Boise State 56-47 in the opener before upending the Utah Utes 50-44.

The Ducks are averaging 56.5 points per game while allowing 52.5 per tilt. Oregon is shooting .366 from the floor while its opponents shoot at a .345 percentage. On the glass the Ducks have been out-rebounded by their opponents per game by a -1.7 margin. Unlike SMC, Oregon is stagnant in the second half, being outscored 122-88 in the period.

Individually Oregon is led by Carolyn Ganes and Taylor Lilley. Ganes currently paces the Ducks with 13.5 points per game while shooting 41-percent. Lilley closely follows with a 13 points average while shooting 58 percent. Jessie Shetters leads the Ducks on the window with 7.8 rebounds per game.

Versus Oregon: The two programs have met four times with the Ducks taking all four games. Oregon came into McKeon Pavilion in 2005 and sank a buzz-beater to beat Saint Mary's 68-67. In the last meeting in Eugene, the Ducks won 72-61.

Gaels Torch McKeon For 100: The Saint Mary's Gaels erupted for 100 points in a thrilling 100-91 victory over Cal State Northridge on the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic opening night. The triple-digit out-burst is the first time the Gaels have reached the century mark since a 103-88 win over Providence in 1994. Junior forwards Monica Mertle and Maija Lahde combined to pour in 43 of Saint Mary's 100 points Friday night.

Three Career Highs: When the Gaels busted out for 100 points against Cal State Northridge, three players tallied career-highs in points. Junior forward Monica Mertle poured in a career-best 22 points on 6-of-14 shooting and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. Fellow junior forward Maija Lahde also tallied a career-high with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Senior center Sheridan Arredondo eclipsed her personal best with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

Mertle Named to All-Tournament Team: Junior forward Monica Mertle was named to the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team for her effort over the weekend. Mertle led the Gaels with a career-high 22 points en route to Saint Mary's first 100-point game since 1994. The junior forward shot 6-of-14 and converted 9-of-10 free throws, also a career-high against Northridge. The Windsor, CA native also drained a three and handed out an assist. The next night against Missouri, Mertle added nine points, four rebounds and an assist.

Under the Radar: Saint Mary's junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy put up some solid numbers across the board this past weekend. In the Gaels' 100 point out-burst, Shaughnessy handed out eight assists, pulled down six rebounds and stole the ball four times in 36 minutes of action. Against Missouri, the Bellevue, WA native scored six points, handed out seven helpers and grabbed six boards.

Paul Thomas Records First Gael Victory: First-year head coach Paul Thomas recorded his first career Division I victory with a 69-68 win over Miami. Event 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.

Second Half Surges: In three of the four games this season the Gaels have come alive in the second half and put up some impressive numbers. SMC has out-scored its opposition 165-150 in the period including a 52 point showing against Northridge and a 48 point punch against Miami.

WCC Rankings: After three weeks of action the Gaels are highly ranked in numerous categories. Overall Saint Mary's leads the West Coast Conference in rebounding offense with 40.0, averaging 15.50 a game and 3-point field goal percentage defense with a .236 mark. SMC is second in steals with an average of 11.50 a game. The Gaels are third in blocked shots with 3.75 a game and in scoring offense with 72.2 points per game. Saint Mary's sits in third in turnover margin at +1.25 and fourth in assists with 15.25 per game.

Lauren Shaughnessy currently leads the conference in steals with 3.25 a game, she is also ranked first in assist to turnover ratio with a 2.33 mark. Shaughnessy is second in assists with 5.25 a game. Senior forward Eghosa Obaiza ranks first in offensive rebounds with 3.50 a game and is fourth in blocks with 2.00 per tilt and sixth in rebounding with 6.8 per game.

Junior forward Monica Mertle is fifth in scoring with 14.8 per game and is seventh in 3-point field goal percentage at 40 percent. Junior forward Maija Lahde is eighth in offensive rebounds with 2.25 per game and 10th in blocked shots at 0.75 and steals with 1.75 per game. Sophomore guard Jontelle Smith ranks fifth in the league in 3-point field goals made and ninth in scoring with 13 points per game. Junior guard Serena Benavente is fifth in assist to turnover ratio with a 1.33 mark and is eighth in assists with 3.00 per game.

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 head south for its lone contest of the week. The Gaels will head to San Diego to face the Aztecs on Sunday, December 10 at 2 p.m. from Cox Arena.