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Women's Basketball Host Bulldogs in McKeon Pavilion

Dec. 11, 2007

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This Week in Saint Mary's Basketball... Saint Mary's (5-5) returns home after three games away, facing Fresno State (1-6) on Wednesday, December 12 at 7:05 PM. The Gaels will host the Bulldogs for the first time this season and eight time in the history of the program. Saint Mary's holds a 5-2 record against Fresno State, last defeating the Bulldogs in overtime in 2001.

Following the Wednesday night game the Gaels will hit the road again, as they travel to Davis, CA for a single game against the UC Davis Aggies on December 17 at 5:45 PM. Following the game against UC Davis the Gaels will return home, as they get ready to depart for Utah. On December 19 and 22 Saint Mary's will face Utah and Utah State, in their last road games before the start of conference play.

"This is Why I'm Hot"... Fifth year senior Serena Benavente has heated-up over the past three games (#12 California, #18 Vanderbilt, Alabama) for the Gaels, averaging 16.7 points per contest, while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor (18-of-34). Most recently Benavente scored a game-high 15 points against the Alabama Crimson Tide on December 9. Benavente knocked down 2-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc, while hitting 7-of-8 free throws in the game. The senior also picked up three steals, two rebounds, and one assist in a team-high 36 minutes of action.

Record Breaking News... Freshman forward Louella Tomlinson had a record breaking performance against Alabama on December 9, tallying 10 blocks in 34 minutes of action. With the 10 blocks Tomlinson broke her own record of blocks in a game, which she held at eight, while also tying the record for blocks in a season at 50. Tomlinson has posted 50 blocks in just 10 games, tying Pia Paivio's record for the most blocks in a season. If Tomlinson can keep up her record breaking pace, she will be on target to beat the most blocks in a career, which is held by Pia Paivio at 134. Tomlinson currently averages 5.0 blocks per game, ranking second in NCAA Div. I.

Scouting the Bulldogs Fresno State has started the 2007-08 season with a 1-6 record, defeating Long Beach State 66-55 in their last appearance on December 7. The Bulldogs' loses have come many high caliber teams, including California, Brigham Young, Oklahoma State, TCU, Utah, and Loyola Marymount. As a team Fresno State averages 67.6 points per game, while shooting 37.7 percent from the floor (163-of-432).

At half time against the 49ers the Bulldogs were down 31-20, but put together 46 point second half on a 14-of-27 shooting (51.9 percent) from the floor. Fresno State out-rebounded LBSU by 17, recording 47 rebounds in the game, including 20 on the offensive end.

The team is led by Tierre Wilson, a second team All-WAC member after the 2006-07 season, averaging a team-high 19.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Wilson recorded a game and career-high 28 points in the Bulldogs' first win of the season over Long Beach State, in 32 minutes of action the senior guard shot 10-of-18 from the field and hit 7-of-9 free throws. The Oklahoma native also picked up seven boards, one assists, and one steal in the win.

No other Bulldog averages double-digits in points, as LaShaunte Stephens is the next best on the team with 8.7 points a contest. Against the 49ers Stephens chipped in 10 points and five rebounds.

Fresno State finished the 2006-07 season with a 18-13 overall record and 10-6 record in conference play (3rd place).

Saint Mary's Versus Fresno State The Gaels hold a 5-2 record versus the Bulldogs, last facing Fresno State in 2002. In the 2002 meeting the Gaels were narrowly edged by the Bulldogs, losing 66-64. During the 2001 season Saint Mary's defeated Fresno State on their home floor in overtime, 68-66. The Gaels look to improve their record to 6-2 against the Bulldogs Wednesday night.

Benavente Selected to All-Tourney Senior guard Serena Benavente put together stellar weekend for the Gaels, during 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 Offense Four Gaels average double-digits in points this season. Jontelle Smith tops the list at 14.4 points per game, while Maija Lahde and Louella Tomlinson average 11.3 and 10.9 points respectively. Rounding out the offense is senior guard Lauren Shaughnessy, posting 10.2 points per game.

SWAT Team As a team the Gaels currently rank fifth in the NCAA Division I in blocks per game, posting 6.5 per contest. Freshman Louella Tomlinson leads the way for the Gaels, recording a team-high 50 blocks. Lindsay Ellis has added to the team total, posting six 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 NCAA As of December 11 freshman forward Louella Tomlinson ranks second in NCAA Division I in blocks per game. Tomlinson averages 5.0 blocks per game this season, recording 50 blocks on the year. The Aussie is second behind Michigan State's 6'9'' Alyssa DeHaan, who averages 5.3 blocks per game in nine outings.

Gael Pick Pocket Senior Lauren Shaughnessy has accumulated 28 steals this season. Shaughnessy has picked up 28 in 10 games, ranking second in the WCC in steals per game with 2.8 a contest. Shaughnessy currently ranks 50th in the country in steals per game, with her 2.8 average.

Long Distance Please The Gaels have proved to be a threat from long distance, as they have knocked down 61 three-pointers, while shooting 32.8 percent from behind the arc. The 61 three-pointers ranks third in the WCC, averaging 6.1 made three pointers per game. Saint Mary's has hit 61-of-186 attempts from behind the arc, and their 32.8 percent conversion ranks second in the WCC.

New Kid on the BLOCK Freshman forward Louella Tomlinson broke the record for blocks in a game, tallying eight against the Pacific Tigers on November 28. Tomlinson out did herself on December 9 against Alabama, totalling 10 blocks in the game. 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 set 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-Records Senior 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 Honors Junior 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.

Gaels in Top-10 of WCC Multiple members of the Saint Mary's squad rank in the top-10 of West Coast Conference statistical categories. Junior guard Jontelle Smith currently ranks eighth in the WCC in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game. Smith ranks first in three-point field goals made, totaling 28 three-pointers on the year for a 2.8 average. Other Gaels topping the list are Lauren Shaughnessy, Serena Benavente and Louella Tomlinson. Shaughnessy ranks second in steals with 2.8 per game. Serena Benavente places sixth on the three-point field goal percentage list, posting a 40.6 shooting percentage from long distance. Tomlinson tops the blocks per game category, averaging 5.0 per game.

Gael Coverage This 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.

"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 begin a three-game road stand, as they travel to UC Davis, Utah, and Utah State. Saint Mary's will start on the road against Davis on December 17 at 5:45 PM. The next day the Gaels will hop on a plane to Utah, where they will face Utah on December 19 at 7:00 PM and Utah State on December 22 at 1:00 PM.