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Women's Basketball Heads To Corpus Christi For Two Games

Dec. 14, 2006

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Women's Basketball Game Day: The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (2-6, 0-0 WCC) heads to Corpus Christi Texas to participate in the Flint Hills Resources Islander Classic. The Gaels will play two games with the first slated for Saturday, December 16 against the host Islanders (2-5) at 8:30 p.m. CT. SMC will then either face Cal Poly (4-5) or Southern Mississippi (4-6) on Sunday, December 17 at 4 p.m. All games will be played at the American Bank Center.

Last Time Out: Saint Mary's began its three-game road-swing with a 62-57 loss against San Diego State. The Gaels were led by guards Serena Benavente and Mattiana Thalley who each tallied a team-high nine points. Saint Mary's went to the free throw line 40 times but only converted 22 of them for a 55 percent clip. SMC shot 34 percent from the floor and 38 percent from beyond the arc.

Who's Hot: Saint Mary's junior transfer guard Mattiana Thalley tallied a career-high nine points in just 15 minutes of action. Thalley added five rebounds and also recorded a steal for the Gaels. The Carson, CA native converted 50 percent of her shots from the floor and from three and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

Flint Hills Resources Islander Classic: Saint Mary's will participate in the Islander Classic which showcases a total of four teams. Making the trek to Corpus Christi besides the Gaels and the host Islanders are the Cal Poly Mustangs and the Southern Mississippi Eagles. The Islanders will be hosting Cal Poly, Southern Miss and Saint Mary's for the two-day affair. A&M-Corpus Christi will face Saint Mary's in Saturday's second game at 8:30 following the opener between Southern Miss and Cal Poly at 6 p.m. The tournament will conclude on Sunday with Saint Mary's playing either Southern Miss or Cal Poly at 4 p.m. and the host Islanders playing at 6:30 p.m.

Scouting A&M Corpus Christi: A&M-Corpus Christi enters the tournament with a 2-5 record and winners of two of their last three contests. Senior guards Nicole Duncan and Kirbria Lewis continue to lead the Islanders. Duncan leads the team and is second in the Southland Conference in scoring with 17.6 points a game. She is seventh in the nation with just over three 3-point baskets a game. Lewis leads the nation in steals with a 5.0 a game is second on the team in scoring with 14.1 points. She is also in the top 50 in assists per game with 5.3.

Jillianne Duffey and Jenesis Shaw are both scoring more than 10 points a game. Duffey is averaging 11.0 points and Shaw 10.0. Duffey, who had the first double-double of her career in the Islanders win over Huston-Tillotson with 10 points and 14 rebounds, leads A&M-Corpus Christi with 6.6 rebounds a game.

Versus Corpus Christi: Saturday's game will mark the first meeting between the two programs.

Scouting Cal Poly: Cal Poly enters the tournament 4-5 and its average points scored and allowed show just how even Cal Poly's games have been this season. Cal Poly is scoring 65.7 points while allowing just 66.0. They have lost two straight games (70-68 at San Diego State and 74-69 at San Diego) by a combined seven points after a 22-point win over San Francisco.

Jessica Eggleston has been the undisputed leader for Cal Poly. The 6-foot guard is averaging 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. Four other players are averaging at least 8.3 ppg. Toni Newman is fifth in the country in steals with 30 in nine games as the team is 18th in the country with 13.1 a game.

Versus Cal Poly: If the two teams are to meet on Sunday it would mark the fourth meeting between the two programs. Saint Mary's has won all three including two on the road. The last time the two teams met was in 1995 when the Gaels won 82-59 in San Luis Obispo.

Scouting Southern Miss: Southern Miss ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday with a 57-47 win over Mississippi State. Kendra Reed led the Eagles with 21 points, while Amber Eugene came off the bench with 17. Emer Foley grabbed 14 rebounds. The Eagles are shooting 42 percent from the floor and 36 percent from beyond the arc. Southern Miss holds a +5.3 rebounding margin over its opponents.

Foley leads three Eagles averaging 14.9 points a game or more. Foley is scoring 17.4 points a game and grabbing 8.2 rebounds to lead the team. Eugene is averaging 16 points and Reed 14.9 points a game. Kristin Chaney is ninth in the nation with 6.4 assists a game.

Versus Southern Miss: If the two teams are to meet on Sunday it will mark the first contest between the two programs.

Pine Producers: Saint Mary's got a lot of production off its bench against San Diego State. The Gaels scored 26 points which accounted for 46 percent of their points. Junior guard Mattiana Thalley scored a career-high nine points off the bench. Freshman Kira Kojola added five while Jontelle Smith and Sierra Chambers chipped in with four apiece.

On the Glass: The Gaels lead the WCC in rebounds with 39.4 per game. In eight games, Saint Mary's has pulled down 315 rebounds. The Gaels have been very active on the offensive glass with 15.12 per game. Senior forward Eghosa Obaiza is a big reason the Gaels have the edge on the glass. Obaiza leads the conference in offensive rebounds with 3.88 per game and is tied for fourth in total rebounds with 7.0 a game.

Helping Out: Saint Mary's is fourth in the conference in assists with 13.90 per game. Junior guards Lauren Shaughnessy and Serena Benavente are amongst the leaders in helpers. Shaughnessy is second third in the WCC with 4.88 assists per game while Benavente is seventh with 3.00 per game.

Turned Away: Saint Mary's is second in the WCC with 4.50 blocked shots per contest. The Gaels are led by Eghosa Obaiza and her 1.75 blocks a game which ranks fourth in the conference. Senior center Sheridan Arredondo ranks fifth with 1.25 a game.

Ball Thieves: The Gaels rank second in the WCC with 10.38 steals per contest. Saint Mary's is led by junior guard Lauren Shaughnessy and her 2.25 swipes per game which ranks fifth in the conference. On top of her defense, Shaughnessy is also shooting well from the charity stripe, converting 81 percent of her attempts to rank sixth in the league.

Downtown: Saint Mary's currently ranks fourth in the league with four treys made a game. Sophomore guard Jontelle Smith ranks fifth with 1.50 made a game.

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.

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.

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 return home to face Eastern Washington before heading back on the road. SMC will face EWU on Wednesday, December 20 at 7:05 p.m. from McKeon Pavilion.