Dec. 4, 2007
Mired in its first losing streak of the season, LMU looks to get back on track with a three-game home stand starting with a pair of games this week. On Wednesday, they host Fresno State at 7 p.m. before a visit from Cal Poly on Saturday at 2 p.m.
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.
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.
Promotions on Tap for Home Stand
LMU's upcoming contests have a youthful slant as the Lions gear their audience towards the younger set. Saturday's game will be "Take a Kid to the Game" day, where kids get in free with a paying adult. Next Wednesday will be "Summer Camp Reunion" night, in which any child wearing an LMU Summer Camps t-shirt will be admitted free.
About Fresno State (0-5)
Fresno State is still searching for is first victory following an 82-58 defeat on Friday against Utah. Tierre Wilson had 19 points to lead three Bulldogs in double figures. Hayley Munro added 12 points and seven rebounds and Emma Andrews chipped in 10 points. Earlier this year, the Bulldogs lost 83-79 to Cal, a team that LMU faced last week.
Wilson leads the Bulldog attack with 16.8 ppg and is tied for the team lead with 5.0 rpg and 2.4 apg.
Head Coach Adrian Wiggins is in his fourth season in Fresno, putting together a record of 49-30. Last season, FSU went 18-13 overall, finishing fourth in the Western Athletic Conference with a 9-7 mark. They return five letterwinners and one starter.
This will be the fourth meeting all-time between LMU and Fresno State, with the Lions winning two of the first three, including last year's 65-60 victory in Fresno on December 21. The Lions have already played one WAC team this season, losing at Boise State in the season opener.
About Cal Poly (3-5)
Cal Poly has lost three in a row following home losses last week against San Diego State and San Diego. On Thursday, Megan Harrison had a season-high 34 points to go along with nine rebounds but the Mustangs fell 80-70 to the Aztecs. Harrison followed that up with 21 points against the Toreros in a 62-53 loss.
Harrison is averaging 16.6 ppg and 6.1 rpg, both of which lead Cal Poly. Lisa McBride is second in both categories at 11.9 ppg and 6.0 rpg.Faith Mimnaugh is 111-171 in 11 seasons in San Luis Obispo and has a 14-year coaching record of 118-233. Last year, the Mustangs went 14-14 overall, tying for third in the Big West at 9-5. They return 11 letterwinners and four starters.
LMU has won eight of its 10 meetings with Cal Poly, including last season's 64-62 victory in San Luis Obispo on November 28. The Lions are 6-0 when playing the Mustangs in Gersten. LMU has already faced two Big West teams this year, beating Long Beach State and losing to UC Santa Barbara, and will face a fourth next week when it hosts UC Irvine on December 15.
Last Week Recap: Lions drop Pair on Road
Following its triumph in the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament, LMU took to the road last week for two difficult contests. In a rare Wednesday morning game, #12 Cal used a strong second half to pull away, 75-54. On a day when they needed strong efforts from everyone, the Lions got a lift from their bench. Sophomore Kavita Goss had a career-high 12 points while junior Jenna Sybesma added 10 points. Sophomore Jessica Vargas led the starters with nine points and the Lions got eight points each from sophomore Lisa Helmers and freshman Renahy Young.
After holding a rebounding advantage in five of their first six games, LMU was out-rebounded 43-25. The Lions shot 41.5% from the floor and 36.8% from three-point range while the Bears went 45.9% from the field and 30.8% from downtown. Free throws were also a big factor. LMU attempted just six,
making three, compared to the Bears, who went 15-for-19 at the line.On Sunday, the Lions journeyed to Northern Arizona looking for their first win in five trips to Flagstaff. Sybesma had another huge game with a career-high 19 points but LMU could not stop NAU's Laura Dinkins and Ashley Ingle, who combined for 31 second half points in NAU's 71-59 win. LMU ran out to a 35-29 halftime lead thanks to some hot outside shooting, making 6-of-12 from downtown and holding Dinkins and Ingle to 3-for-13 from the floor. The second half was a different story, however, as LMU missed all eight of its long-range attempts. Foul trouble plagued the Lions, though, and the Lumberjacks outscored LMU 25-5 from the free throw line. Sybesma stepped up when LMU's starting post players were on the bench, scoring 15 points in the second half, but NAU finished the game on a 19-8 run for the win.
LMU vs. Ranked Opponents
Wednesday's game at #12 Cal was the first for the Lions against a ranked opponent this season but the result was a familiar one. Dating back to 2002, the Lions have lost seven straight against top-25 teams. They get another crack at toppling a giant on December 18 when they travel to #21 George Washington.
LMU's 4-3 mark in the opening month of play was its second consecutive winning November and eighth of the last nine Novembers that the Lions have posted a winning mark. LMU has now registered 10 consecutive months of .500 or better.
Depth Shows on Offense
One of the benefits of LMU's attack is the opponent is nobody knows who is going to step up for a big game each night. Although no LMU player is averaging more than 10 points per game, the Lions have been led in scoring by six different players in their first eight games of the season. Already this season, nine players have established new career-highs.
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 43.4 total rebounds (second in the WCC) and 16.0 offensive rebounds per game. The Lions have been outrebounded just two times in the first eight games and are 4-2 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 16.4 rebounds per game, and each ranks in the conference's top five. Ogoke is second at 8.0 rpg with Evans tied for sixth at 8.4. 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 11.0 rebounds per game. In total, seven Lions are averaging 3.0 rebounds per game or better.
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 9.9 points, 4.4 assists, 2.6 steals, and 32.0 minutes to go along with 3.0 rebounds per game. After a slow start offensively, DeCoud kicked it up a notch in a four-game stretch, 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. She tied her career-high with seven assists at NAU.
DeCoud is 21st in the WCC in scoring and is second in steals per game. She is fourth in assists per game (4.38) and assist/turnover ratio (1.46). She continues to climb the LMU career steals chart, currently sitting in seventh place with 186.
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 eight games thus far and is second on the team with 9.0 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 sinking eight treys.Helmers is a certifiable threat from downtown, where she stretches the defense by shooting 31.7% from long range. She has made 19 of the team's 38 three-pointers and is third in the conference in triples made per game (2.38).
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 sidelined her for the next five contests but she returned to limited action at Northern Arizona. The key to Moore's offensive explosion was her defense. At the time of her injury, Moore was leading the Lions in scoring (12.0 ppg) and assists (3.5 per game) while 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 was elevated to a starting role after the injury to Moore. She 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 50.0% from the floor, 10th-best in the WCC. She is third on the team in rebounding at 4.4 per game and has chased down 18 offensive boards, tied for second on the team and tops among guards.
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 7.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while shooting 44.8% 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 offensive rebounds per game (3.62) and is fifth in overall rebounding to go along with being sixth in blocked shots (1.50 per 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 eight games in the Lion uniform, Evans is leading the team in rebounding at 8.4 per game while adding 4.0 ppg and 1.3 blocks per game. Evans has shown aggressiveness pursuing the boards, with three games of double-digit rebounds so far. She is also tied for second on the team in offensive rebounds, grabbing 18 through the first eight 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 fourth in the conference in rebounding, Evans is seventh in blocks (1.43).
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 60 points on 62% shooting over the last six 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 and 10 points (on 5-for-7 from the floor) at #12 Cal. She topped all of those with a new career-high of 19 points, six rebounds, and three assists at NAU. Sybesma carried the Lions that game, scoring 15 of her points after halftime, including 13 of LMU's 15 during one 10-minute stretch.
Overall, she is averaging 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18.3 mpg. She is fifth in the WCC in field goal percentage at a blistering 55.8%.
Bench Warrior (Part II)
Another in the endless line of sophomore guards making an impact is Kavita Goss. After spraining her ankle in the final practice before the exhibition games, Goss took awhile to regain the form that saw her start 14 games last season and finish second on the team with 22 three-pointers made. This year, she tied her career-high with nine points at Long Beach State, then tied it again with a solid 4-for-7 effort in the Ayres Hotel Tournament title game. At #12 Cal, Goss came off the bench for a career-high 12 points to lead all Lion scorers, shooting 50% from both the floor and three-point range. Those two outings have raised her per-game average to 5.4 points and she is second on the team with seven makes from downtown.
Freshmen No Slouches
Coach Wilhoit said they were athletic and would contribute right away and she was 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 6.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg, and 1.3 spg in the guard-heavy Lion rotation. She is ninth in the league in free throw percentage at 76.5%.
At her current pace, Ysaguirre will shatter the school record for shooting percentage in a season as she is off to a blistering 69.6% clip to start, going 16-for-23 from the floor in the season's first six games. Ysaguirre had her break-out game at Northern Arizona, scoring a career-high 10 points on 5-for-9 from the floor that actually brought down her shooting percentage. She is averaging a steady 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds (58% of which are offensive) in just 9.9 minutes per game.
Free Throw Woes Plague Lions
Any coach will tell you that you need to take the easy points when you can get them. No points in the game of basketball come as easy as free throws and so far, LMU has not taken advantage. The Lions are last in the WCC in free throw percentage at 55.6% and have been out-shot from the line in all but one game this season. Recently, things have gotten worse, as the Lions attempted a season-low six free throws at #12 Cal and shot a season-low 31.3% (5-for-16) at Northern Arizona, a game in which they were outscored 25-5 at the charity stripe. In total, five players are shooting below 60% from the line.