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Gaels Face Utes in Salt Lake City

Dec. 18, 2007

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This Week in Saint Mary's Basketball... After traveling to Davis, CA, the Gaels will returned home to Moraga before departing to Utah for a two-game road trip. While in Utah, the Gaels will face Utah on December 19 at 7:00 PM MT and Utah State on December 22 at 1:00 PM MT. Fans can follow the Gaels on the road, as both games will be on the radio at www.SMCGaels.com.

"This is Why I'm Hot"... Junior guard Jontelle Smith led the Gaels in scoring for the past two outings, as she scored 26 points versus UC Davis and 27 points against Fresno State. Against UC Davis Smith knocked down a career-high seven three pointers, while shooting 8-of-18 from the floor. In Saint Mary's win over Fresno State Smith recorded a career-high 27 points. Smith shot an impressive 52.4 percent from the field (11-of-21), while knocking down 5-of-10 from long distance. Smith leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.4 points a contest, while shooting 37.7 percent from the field.

Record Breaking News... Freshman forward Louella Tomlinson had a record breaking performance against the Fresno State Bulldogs on December 12, totaling seven blocks to improve her block count to 57 on the year. The forward's 57 blocks captured the record for most blocks in a season, destroying the previous record of 50 held by Pia Paivio. Against Alabama on December 9, Tomlinson tallied a SMC single game record 10 blocks in 34 minutes of action, breaking her previous record of eight blocks in a game. 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 5.2 blocks per game, ranking second in NCAA Division I. Tomlinson's current block total this season is 62, after recording five blocks against UC Davis on Monday, December 17.

Scouting the Utes Utah has started the season with a 7-3 record and are currently receiving votes (11) in the USA Today/ESPN Top-25 Coaches Poll. The Utes have defeated many strong opponents, including UC Irvine, Akron, Nebraska, South Dakota State, Fresno State, Minnesota, and Utah State. Two Pac-10 schools have handed the Utes losses, as Stanford defeated the Utes 81-77, and USC picked-up the win 62-45. Marist is the only other team that has defeated the Utes this season, winning 70-66 in overtime.

Offensively Utah is very well rounded, as three players average double-digits in points. Morgan Warburton tops the list, recording 16.3 points per game. The junior guard also adds 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per contest. Senior guard Leilani Mitchell is not far behind Warburton, averaging 15.6 points per game, while also tallying a team-high 7.2 assists per game. Rounding out the list is Kalee Whipple averaging 14.9 points per game. Whipple leads the team in shooting percentage, 51.4 percent (54-of-105), and also adds a team-high 6.7 rebounds per contest.

Last season the Utes finished with a 19-14 overall record, and 10-6 conference record. Morgan Warburton and Kalee Whipple's conference performances were rewarded with Mountain West All-Conference accolades, as Warburton was named to the first team and Whipple was named to the third team. Utah's overall record was good enough for a bid into the Women's NIT, as they fell to Illinois in the second round, 59-48.

Saint Mary's Versus Utah The Gaels will face the Utes for the fourth time in program history, as they look to record their first win against Utah. Saint Mary's are 0-3 against the Utes, with the last meeting taking place in 2003. Utah defeated the Gaels 69-40 while playing in Salt Lake City.

Smith For Three!!! Junior guard Jontelle Smith has been a threat from long range throughout her career at Saint Mary's. The guard totaled 106 made three pointers after her first two seasons as a Gael, and as remained on target from beyond the arc. This year the Pinole native has already knocked down 40 threes, with a 38.8 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Her 40 threes this season boosts her total count to 146 threes in her career. The junior is just 40 threes away from breaking the record for the most three pointers in a career (185), held by Anja Bordt `91.

Smith currently ranks 10th in the NCAA Division I in three-pointers made per game and first in the West Coast Conference, averaging 3.0 a contest. The Gael guard most recently knocked down seven three-pointers against UC Davis on December 17, breaking her previous best of five threes is a contest.

SWAT Team As a team the Gaels currently rank second in the NCAA Division I in blocks per game, posting 7.3 per contest. Freshman Louella Tomlinson leads the way for the Gaels, recording a team-high 62 blocks. Lindsay Ellis has added to the team total, posting ten blocks, while Lauren Shaughnessy and Leanna Richey have tabbed five blocks apiece. Rounding out the block total is junior Mikaela Cowles with two and senior Maija Lahde, with one block on the year. The NCAA Division I includes 326 teams from around the nation.

Benavente Selected to All-Tourney Senior guard Serena Benavente put together stellar weekend at the Contra Costa Times Classic hosted by California. 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.

Aussie Ranks First in NCAA As of December 17, freshman forward Louella Tomlinson ranks first in NCAA Division I for total blocks. Tomlinson has totaled 62 blocks in 12 games this season, recording nine more blocks than the next best player.

Tomlinson ranks second in blocks per game, averaging 5.2 blocks per game. The Aussie is second behind Michigan State's 6-9 Alyssa DeHaan, who averages 5.3 blocks per game in ten outings (53 total).

Gael Pick Pocket Senior Lauren Shaughnessy has accumulated 28 steals this season. Shaughnessy has picked up 29 steals in 12 games, ranking tied for fourth in the WCC in steals per game with 2.4 a contest.

Long Distance Please The Gaels have proved to be a threat from long distance, as they have knocked down 82 three-pointers, while shooting 36.0 percent from behind the arc. The 82 three-pointers ranks second in the WCC, averaging 6.83 made three pointers per game. Saint Mary's has hit 80-of-228 attempts from behind the arc, and their 36.0 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. Prior to Tomlinson's arrival at Saint Mary's the record for blocks in a game was five, held by Pia Paivio since 1991.

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-Highs 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-highs 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 fifth in the WCC in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per game. Smith ranks first in three-point field goals made, totaling 40 three-pointers on the year for a 3.3 average. Other Gaels topping the list are Lauren Shaughnessy, Serena Benavente and Louella Tomlinson. Shaughnessy ranks fourth in steals with 2.4 per game and ninth in assists with a 3.25 average. Serena Benavente places fifth on the three-point field goal percentage list, posting a 41.2 shooting percentage from long distance, and eighth in steal per game, 1.75. Tomlinson tops the blocks per game category, averaging 5.2 per game, while also placing 10th on the free-throw percentage list, at 77.4.

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.

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.

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-Season The 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.

"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 NextFinishing the three game road trip the Gaels will play in Logan, UT versus the Utah State Aggies. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:00 PM MT on Saturday, December 22.