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Women's Basketball Continues Road Play

Dec. 7, 2007

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This Week in Saint Mary's Basketball...The Gaels will pack their bags this weekend, as they make a quick trip to Tuscaloosa, AL. The team departs the friendly confines of Moraga, CA early Saturday morning, as they make their way to the mid west to play the Alabama Crimson Tide. Saint Mary's will take on the Crimson Tide Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PM Central Time at the Coleman Coliseum.

Saint Mary's (5-4) participated in the Contra Costa Times classic last weekend, as they fell to #12 California and #23 Vanderbilt. Against the Golden Bears the Gaels took a 19-6 lead early in the game behind Serena Benavente and Jontelle Smith's six three-pointers. Unfortunately Saint Mary's was not able to keep the lead against Cal, as they were defeated 77-61 in Hass Pavilion. Smith and Benavente posted 20 and 19 points respectively, while Sierra Chambers picked-up six rebounds.

In the Gaels second outing of the classic they were defeated by #23 Vanderbilt. The Commodores out lasted Saint Mary's, 90-69, as Christina Wirth totaled 18 points for Vandy. Senior guard Lauren Shaughnessy topped the Gaels' scoring, as she tallied 17 points and six rebounds. Shaughnessy shot 7-of-17 from the floor, and was 1-of-1 from three-point land.

"This is Why I'm Hot"...Junior guard Jontelle Smith has the "Hot Hand" for the Gaels, as she recorded double-digit points in back-to-back games over the weekend. Smith scored a team and game-high 22 points against the #12 California Golden Bears, and then proceeded to score 14 points against #23 Vanderbilt the next day. Smith was on fire from behind the arc, knocking down five threes against the Golden Bears, and two against the Commodores. The junior was almost perfect from the free throw line, as she went 5-of-6 from the line in the two game classic. Smith shot 29.2 percent from long range, and averaged 34.5 minutes, the most of any Gael player. Smith has made 23 baskets from beyond the arc this season, and averages the most points with 14.3 a contest.

Scouting the Crimson TideAlabama is coming-off their sixth loss of the season, as they were edged by the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Wednesday night, 62-61. Daleisha Carn found a rhythm for the Crimson Tide, scoring 20 points and nabbing five rebounds. The only other Alabama member to record double-digits in points was Tierney Jenkins, posting 10 points and six rebounds in Alabama's loss. The Crimson Tide shot just 35.3 percent from the floor (24-of-68) and 20.0 percent from beyond the arc (2-of-10). On a brighter note, Alabama finished the game 11-of-13 from the free throw line, as four players shot perfect from the line.

The Crimson Tide picked up their second win of the season, defeating Tennessee Tech University 53-47 on November 30. The team was led by Talisha Chandler with 13 points, nine rebounds, three steals, and one assist. Chandler was 5-of-9 from the field, while knocking down 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Joining Chandler in the double-digit range was freshman Tierney Jenkins. Jenkins posted a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds in the game. The freshman also chipped in three steals and two blocks.

On the season the Crimson Tide are 2-6, defeating Tennessee Tech and Washington State, while Tulane, Samford, Arkansas State, Easter Michigan, Belmont, and Louisiana Tech have each handed Alabama loses this season. As a team the Crimson Tide are shooting 38.5 percent from the field, and 24.6 percent from three-point land.

Freshman Daleisha Carn leads the team in points per game, averaging 11.8, while also pulling down 3.4 rebounds per game. The guard has also posted 16 assists, eight blocks, and six steals on the year. Tierney Jenkins is second on the team in point scoring, posting 11.4 per game. Jenkins has also tallied 52 rebounds, 17 steals, nine blocks, and three assists.

Last season the Crimson Tide finished the year with a 10-20 overall record, while not recording a win in the Southeastern Conference (0-14). Alabama returns eight letter winners from last season, while only losing two.

Saint Mary's Versus AlabamaThe Gaels have faced the Crimson Tide two times in program history. Saint Mary's hosted Alabama in December of `99, as they were narrowly defeated by the Crimson Tide, 61-59. Tracy Morris, current assistant coach, recorded 13 points in the Gaels' loss. Sunday's game will mark the third time the two teams have faced each other.

Benavente Selected to All-TourneySenior guard Serena Benavente is coming of a stellar weekend for the Gaels, as she was named to the All-Tournament team of the Contra Costa Times Classic. The veteran guard showed leadership while facing two ranked opponents, #12 California and #23 Vanderbilt, averaging 17.5 points per game, and recording a 65.2 shooting percentage from the floor (15-of-23). In two games the Seaside, CA native shot 5-of-11 from behind the arc, while also chipping in four assists and three steals. Against the Golden Bears Benavente recorded a season-high 19 points.

Balanced OffenseFour Gaels average double-digits in points this season. Jontelle Smith tops the list at 14.3 points per game, while Maija Lahde and Louella Tomlinson average 11.3 and 11.2 points respectively. Rounding out the offense is senior guard Lauren Shaughnessy, posting 10.4 points per game.

SWAT TeamAs a team the Gaels currently rank eighth in the NCAA Division I in blocks per game, posting 6.0 per contest. Freshman Louella Tomlinson leads the way for the Gaels, recording a team-high 40 blocks. Lindsay Ellis has added to the team total, posting five blocks, while Lauren Shaughnessy and Leanna Richey have tabbed four blocks apiece. Rounding out the block total is senior Maija Lahde, with one block on the year.

Aussie Ranks Second in NCAAAs of December 6 freshman forward Louella Tomlinson is tied for second in NCAA Division I in blocks per game. Tomlinson averages 4.4 blocks per game this season, recording 40 blocks on the year. The Aussie is tied for second behind Michigan State's Alyssa DeHaan, who averages 5.0 blocks per game in eight outings.

Gael Pick PocketsSeniors Lauren Shaughnessy and Maija Lahde have accumulated 38 steals combined this season. Shaughnessy has picked up 23 in nine games, ranking third in the WCC in steal per game with 2.56 a contest. Lahde recorded 15 steals in the first seven games for the Gaels, placing fifth in the WCC with a 2.14 steal per game average. As a team the Gaels are fifth in WCC in steals per game, with a 9.22 average.

Long Distance PleaseThe Gaels have proved to be a threat from long distance, as they have knocked down 54 three-pointers, while shooting 33.5 percent from behind the arc. The 54 three-pointers ranks third in the WCC, averaging six made three pointers per game. Saint Mary's has hit 54-of-161 attempts from behind the arc, and thier 33.5 percent conversion ranks third in the WCC.

Tomlinson Tops SMC Record BooksFreshman forward Louella Tomlinson broke the record for blocks in a game, tallying eight against the Pacific Tigers on November 28. At the start of the season the record for blocks in a game was five, held by Pia Paivio since 1991. Tomlinson had tied that record in three games this season, posting five blocks against Boise State, Yale, and Prairie View. The forward's eight blocks against the Tigers sets a new record for blocks in game. Against Pacific Tomlinson did not record a block in the first half, but exploded in the second half for the Gaels. At one point in the game Tomlinson rejected three Tiger field goal attempts in a single possession.

Lahde Named Classic MVP Maija Lahde put up two back-to-back MVP performances in one weekend, as she led the Gael's to the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic title. The senior forward averaged 19 points and eight rebounds in two games, while also compiling six steals, five assists, and one block.

On the first night of the classic against the Yale Bulldogs, Lahde recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Finland native shot fifty percent from the field on 5-of-10 shooting, while also pitching in two steals and three assists. The next night out Lahde scored a game-high 24 points against Boise State. The senior forward shot 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, sealing the Gael's win down the stretch. Lahde's eight rebounds and four steals against the Bulldogs were also game highs.

Lahde was named the Concord Hilton Thanksgiving Classic Most Valuable Player for her efforts.

Shaughnessy Shatters Career-RecordsSenior guard Lauren Shaughnessy played the game of her career on Friday, November 23, leading the Gaels in a 15-point win over the visiting Yale Bulldogs. The guard recorded five career-records on the night, in points, rebounds, blocks, field goals made, and field goals attempted. Shaughnessy tallied 26 points in the Gael's win, shattering her previous career-high by nine points. The 5'4" senior out-rebounded every other player on the floor, posting a game-high 11 rebounds, while setting a new career record. Though small in stature, Shaughnessy also chipped in a career-high three blocks. Adding to her record breaking night the Washington native recorded career-highs in field goals made with 10 and field goals attempted with 17. Shaughnessy was also named an all-tournament selection for her performances over the weekend.

Lahde WCC Player of the Week (11/12/07)Saint Mary's Maija Lahde enjoyed an outstanding opening weekend to the 2007-08 season, leading the Gaels to a 2-1 record at the Basketball Traveler's Classic in Waco, TX. The senior posted solid all-around numbers, averaging 11.0 points and 6.7 rebounds through three games, and shooting .438 (14-for-32) percent from the floor. Lahde pitched in 10 points in a win over Prairie View A&M on Friday, before scoring a game-high 19 points with 12 boards in Sunday's 87-65 victory over Howard. The native of Finland was just two assists shy of a triple-double in Sunday's win.

Smith Garners All-Tournament HonorsJunior Jontelle Smith earned all-tournament accolades after her stellar performance at the Basketball Traveler's Tip-Off Tournament. The 5-5 junior guard averaged 13.7 points per game, while also chipping in 11 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Smith tied her career-high five three pointers against Prairie View in the opening game of the tournament. The junior guard went 8-of-22 from behind the arc and 13-of-19 from the charity stripe in the tournament.

New Kid on the BlockFreshman Louella Tomlinson has recorded 40 blocks this season. Most recently Tomlinson recorded eight blocks during the Contra Costa Times Classic, as she posted six against #12 Cal and two versus #23 Vanderbilt. The Aussie broke a SMC record, totaling eight blocks against Pacific. Tomlinson recorded back-to-back games with five blocks while participating in the Gaels' Thanksgiving classic. The Australian native picked up a game-high five blocks in her first game as a Gael against the Prairie View Panthers on November 9. The freshman forward had one block against #15 Baylor, and added four more to her total against the Howard Bison. The freshman is on pace to beat the most blocks in a season, which is held by Pia Paivio with 50 in 1992-93. Tomlinson currently ranks first in the WCC in blocks per game (4.44 bpg), and has helped the Gaels to first place in blocking as a team, averaging 6.4 per contest.

Gaels in Top-10 of WCCMultiple members of the Saint Mary's squad rank in the top-10 of West Coast Conference statistical categories. Junior guard Jontelle Smith currently ranks eight in the WCC in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game. Smith ranks second in three-point field goals made, totaling 23 three-pointers on the year for a 2.56 average. Other Gaels topping the list are Maija Lahde, Lauren Shaughnessy, Serena Benavente and Louella Tomlinson. Shaughnessy ranks third in steals with 2.56 per game, while Lahde is right behind at fifth place, averaging 2.14 a contest. Serena Benavente places sixth on the three-point field goal percentage list, posting a 40.9 shooting percentage from long distance. Tomlinson tops the blocks per game category, averaging 4.0 per game.

Gael CoverageThis season Saint Mary's athletics is bringing fans more media coverage for women's basketball games than ever before. All of the women's basketball games will air live on the radio at SMCGaels.com.

From Texas to Utah, Gael fans will have access to game play-by-plays, post game interviews, and more, free at www.SMCGaels.com. To access the feature, go to the women's basketball schedule online at www.SMCGaels.com, click on the game you are interested in, and click the "Listen" link listed on each game's information.

In addition to radio coverage, fans will have the opportunity to watch the Gaels live at any home game, via an internet streaming package available at www.SMCGaels.com. To access the live video streaming, fans must sign up by clicking on the "Gael All Access" button located in the upper right hand corner of the www.SMCGaels.com home page.

"On behalf of the players and coaching staff we appreciate the fact that GaelVision is making commitment to broadcasting all of our home games," stated head coach Paul Thomas. "The coverage is very important to us as a program; it enhances the experience for our international student athletes' family and friends, while allowing our fan base to expand throughout the country."

Through CSTV fans can sign-up for three different packages; $6.99 for a month of Gael coverage, $49.95 for a year of Gael coverage, or $119.95 for a year of coverage for all CSTV sponsored schools. By signing up for one of these three packages fans can watch all of the women's basketball games held in McKeon Pavilion.

Gaels Picked 5th in WCC Pre-SeasonThe Gaels were picked to finish fifth in the West Coast Conference Pre-Season Coaches Poll. Saint Mary's returns four of five starters, including All-WCC First Team Selection Jontelle Smith. Joining Smith are seniors Maija Lahde, an honorable mention pick, Serena Benavente, and Lauren Shaughnessy. San Diego was picked to finish first in the conference with four first place votes, while Gonzaga received three first place votes.

2006-07 All-WCC ReturneesFor Smith and Lahde it marks the second consecutive season that the duo earned all-conference status. Smith was named to the all-freshman and honorable mention squads while Lahde joined Smith on the honorable mention list.

Smith led the Gaels in scoring overall and in conference play. The sophomore tallied 11.9 points over the course of the season and paced SMC with 12.4 points during conference play.

The Pinole native was second during WCC games in three point field goal percentage with a .431 mark. Smith was third in three point field goals made with 28. Smith poured in 20 points at Pepperdine with four threes on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor.

Lahde put together her best season as a Gael. The Finland native averaged 10 points and 6.9 rebounds per game overall and 8.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per conference game. The 7.9 rebounds led the team and ranked third in the conference.

The junior recorded two double-double in conference play, including a 10 point, 16 rebound performance against Portland. The 16 rebounds was a career-high and followed a 15 board performance the game before.

"The Breakfast Club"Saint Mary's head women's basketball coach Paul Thomas announced the new Coach Thomas Breakfast Club schedule. The club will now meet at Roncalli Hall in the Founder's Dining Room on the Saint Mary's campus.

This is your opportunity to get the inside scoop on the women's basketball program. Coach Thomas will talk about upcoming games, and what the Gaels need to do to be successful. Player guests and door prizes will also be a part of the event. The cost of the breakfast is $5 per person and includes eggs, sausage/bacon, toast, potatoes and juice/coffee. All fans, alumni and friends of the college are welcome.

Eight dates have been set, with all breakfast times slated for 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. The first breakfast is scheduled for November 13 and will continue until the last meeting on March 4, 2008.

Coming Up NextThe Gaels will return home after three games away, as they face the Fresno State Bulldogs on December 12 at 7:05 PM.