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Lions Face First Top-25 Foe

Nov. 27, 2007

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Upcoming Schedule

Wednesday, November 28
LMU (4-2) at #12 Cal (4-1)11:30 a.m.

Sunday, December 2
LMU (4-2) at Northern Arizona (3-4)1:05 p.m.

Riding a two-game winning streak after claiming the 2007 Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament title, LMU sets its sights on taking down a ranked opponent as it travels north to Berkeley to take on #12 Cal on Wednesday. The road swing continues on Sunday when the Lions head to the mountains and a match-up with Northern Arizona.

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.

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.

Time Change For Cal Game
Please note that the tip-off for Wednesday's game at Cal has been moved up from 7 p.m. to 11:30 a.m. To accommodate the time change, admission to the contest at Haas Pavilion will be free.

About Cal (4-1) • National Rankings: #12 (AP), #13 (ESPN/USA Today)
Cal suffered its first loss of the season on Sunday after winning four straight to start the year. The Golden Bears were upended by the Lady Bears of Baylor, 69-56 in Texas. Cal held a 32-25 halftime lead but 13th-ranked Baylor shot an amazing 61% in the second half to come back for the win. Ashley Walker led Cal with 20 points and 12 rebounds while Alexis Gray-Lawson added 15 points.
Earlier in the road trip, Cal got 14 points and 17 rebounds from Rama N'Diaye to beat Texas Christian 74-55. Walker chipped in a game-high 19 points and Lauren Grief had 16.
An All-Pac 10 selection, Walker is averaging 21.2 points and 12.8 rebounds per game while shooting 60% from the floor. Gray-Lawson is the only other Golden Bear in double figures with 11.2 ppg. The Bears are without the services of Pac 10 Player of the Year Devanei Hampton, who suffered a knee injury early in the season.
Head Coach Joanne Boyle is in her third season in Berkeley, compiling a record of 45-22. She has a six-year overall coaching record of 112-51. Last season, Cal went 23-9, finishing third in the Pac 10 with a 12-6 record. They advanced to the NCAA Tournament, falling 62-59 to Notre Dame in the opening round. They return four starters and eight letterwinners.This is the first meeting between LMU and Cal.

About Northern Arizona (3-4)
Northern Arizona had lost four of its last five after falling 76-61 to Ball State on Saturday. Ashley Ingle and Jenna Galloway each had 18 points, with Laura Dinkins contributing 14 in the loss. On Friday, the Lumberjacks halted a three-game losing streak with a 69-63 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. Ingle had a monster game of 14 points and 18 rebounds, Dinkins had a double-double of 15 points and 12 boards, and Sade Cunningham had a team-high 20 points.
Dinkins paces the Lumberjacks with 15.7 ppg and adds 7.6 rpg. Ingle is just behind in scoring at 12.9 ppg while pulling down a team-high 9.1 rpg.Laurie Kelly is in her fifth season as Head Coach in Flagstaff, putting together a record of 76-54. She has an overall record of 180-92 in nine seasons as a head coach. Last year, NAU went 20-12, tying for second in the Big Sky Conference with an 11-5 mark. It was the program's third 20-win season in its history and second in a row.
NAU has controlled the all-time series, winning six of seven meetings against the Lions. Last season, the Lumberjacks came to Gersten and walked away 74-58 victors. LMU has lost all four of its games in Flagstaff.

Last Week Recap: LMU Proves Defense Wins Championships
LMU's quest for its first Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament title since 2003 was fulfilled as the Lions steamrolled their way through their home tournament to clinch their fourth crown in the tourney's 11-year history. Defense was the key to the championship, as the Lions held both their opponents under 25% shooting to win by an average margin of 26.5 points. In Friday's opener against Jackson State, the LMU defense limited the Lady Tigers to 3-for-22 (13.6%) shooting in the first half to take a 30-14 halftime lead and cruised to a 69-39 victory. Sophomore Lisa Helmers had a game-high 12 points on four three-pointers while senior Amanda DeCoud added 11 points, five assists, and four steals. Redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans chipped in with 11 rebounds.
Saturday's final pitted the Lions against an outstanding Indiana State squad that had knocked off ranked Vanderbilt the week before. LMU showed no fear, taking it to the Sycamores early. ISU missed 16 of its first 18 shots as LMU jumped out to an 18-point lead in the first half. Indiana State would get no closer than 14 and LMU had its first home tournament title in four seasons with a 74-51 win. Helmers again led the way with 16 points and another four from downtown to earn All-Tournament honors. DeCoud was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after another solid performance with nine points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Senior Valerie Ogoke chipped in her second double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go alongside Evans' second straight 11-rebound game.

LMU vs. Ranked Opponents
Wednesday's game at #12 Cal marks the first of two non-conference meetings against a top-25 opponent. LMU also played a pair of ranked foes last season, losing at #4 Stanford in the season opener and to #12 Texas A&M in the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament. Dating back to 2002, the Lions have lost six straight against top-25 teams.

Monsters on the Boards
One noticeable difference 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 46.2 total rebounds (second in the WCC) and 17.3 offensive rebounds per game. The Lions have been outrebounded just once in the first six games and are 4-1 when holding the edge on the glass.
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, and each ranks in the conference's top ten. Ogoke is second at 9.3 rpg with Evans tied for sixth at 9.0. Even more impressive has been the pursuit of rebounds by the guards, as LMU's starting backcourt of senior Amanda DeCoud and sophomores Lisa Helmers and Jessica Vargas combine for 12.5 rebounds per game. Vargas is also among the league leaders, tying for 20th. In total, eight Lions are averaging 3.0 rebounds per game or better.

Oh, Mandy
The cog that keeps the Lion offense and defense rolling continues to be senior Amanda DeCoud. The reigning WCC Defender of the Year showed her all-around game at the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament, averaging 10.0 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 steals, and 3.0 rebounds to take home MVP honors.DeCoud is averaging team-highs of 4.0 assists, 3.2 steals, and 32.3 minutes to go along with 11.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. After a slow start offensively, DeCoud has kicked it up a notch in the last four games, putting up back-to-back career-highs of 19 points at Long Beach State and at home versus UC Santa Barbara prior to her tournament heroics. Against the Gauchos, DeCoud single-handedly carried the Lions back from by scoring 12 points in a 10-minute stretch after halftime to turn a nine-point halftime deficit into an 11-point lead. At UNLV, 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 12th in the WCC in scoring and is tied for first in steals per game with 3.17. She is also eighth in assist/turnover ratio (1.26) and tied for 14th in free throw percentage (75.0%). She continues to climb the LMU career steals chart, currently sitting in seventh place with 184.

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 six games thus far and is third on the team with 10.2 ppg. After back-to-back nine point outings to start the season tied for her career-high, she topped it with 12 points vs. UC Santa Barbara, followed it with 12 more against Jackson State, and continued her roll with 16 points in the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament final. She led the Lions in scoring in both games at the tournament, averaging 14.0 ppg and making eight three-pointers.Helmers is a certifiable threat from downtown, where she stretches the defense by shooting 36.4% from long range, eighth-best in the WCC. She has made 16 of the team's 25 three-pointers and leads the conference in triples made per game (2.67).

Gimme Moore
Junior Cassady Moore got off to a fast start, putting up back-to-back 12 point outings in the first two games and leads the team in scoring average. A knee injury has sidelined her for the last four but she hopes to return soon as the Lions could use her on both ends of the court. The key to Moore's offensive explosion was her defense. She is second on the team steals per game with 3.0 and her quickness led to numerous fastbreak opportunities.
At the time of her injury, Moore was also leading the Lions in assists (3.5 per game), pulling down 3.5 rebounds per game, and shooting 45.0% from the floor.

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 started this season on the bench but has stepped into a starting role after the injury to Moore. She has responded with back-to-back career-highs in her first two starts, scoring 11 points at Long Beach State before exploding for 17 points (and seven rebounds) in the home opener vs. UCSB.
Her hustle and knack for the ball have been most impressive as Vargas is shooting 52.4% from the floor. She is third in rebounding at 5.2 per game and has chased down 15 offensive boards, also third on the team and tops among guards.
She ranks among the WCC leaders in scoring average (9.0 ppg, 29th), field goal percentage (11th), and offensive rebounds per game (2.50, tied 12th).This week, Vargas will get the chance to return to Flagstaff to play in front of her hometown crowd for the first time since winning city Player of the Year honors at Sinagua High School in 2005-06.

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 is averaging a near-double-double of 8.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while shooting 47.9% from the field. She has three double-digit rebounding outings.
Ogoke was a key component of the Lions' wins at the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament, averaging 10.0 ppg and 9.5 rpg, including a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game.Ogoke had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes in the season opener at Boise State. She equaled her career-high with 12 rebounds against UCSB.
Ogoke is leading the WCC in total and offensive rebounds per game (9.3 total, 4.17 offensive) to go along with being fifth in blocked shots (1.67 per game) and 13th in field goal percentage.

New Kid on the Block
Redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans has made the most of her opportunities after sitting out last season. In her first six games in the Lion uniform, Evans is averaging 5.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg while shooting a shade under 43% from the floor. Evans has shown aggressiveness pursuing the boards, with three games of double-digit rebounds so far. She is also second on the team in offensive rebounds, grabbing 17 through the first six games.
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. She had back-to-back 11-rebound games at the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament.
In addition to being third in the conference in rebounding, Evans is tied for sixth in blocked shots (1.50) and offensive rebounds per game (2.83).

Bench Warrior
Junior Jenna Sybesma is settling into a comfortable rhythm as the first post player off the bench. Sybesma provides a good compliment to Ogoke and Evans by using her back-to-the-basket talents and soft hands to create opportunities for herself. After a slow start in which she shot 3-for-10 and scored a combined six points in the season's first two games, Sybesma has broken out for 31 points on 60% shooting over the last four contests. It all started at Long Beach State when Sybesma had career-highs of 13 points and four steals in 22 minutes. She also had nine points in 15 minutes against Jackson State. Overall, she is averaging 6.2 ppg and 3.0 rpg in 16.3 mpg.

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 has come down from that high but is still averaging 6.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg, and 1.7 spg in the guard-heavy Lion rotation. She is 9th in the league in free throw percentage at 80.0%.
At her current pace, Ysaguirre will shatter the school record for shooting percentage in a season as she is off to a blistering 78.6% clip to start, going 11-for-14 from the floor in the season's first six games. Ysaguirre has yet to have a break-out game but is averaging 4.0 points and 3.0 rebounds (56% of which is offensive) in just 8.8 minutes per game.

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 was redshirt freshman Maggie Burkett, who returned 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.