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Lions Host Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament

Dec. 23, 2007

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For the second time this season, LMU will host a non-conference tournament as it welcomes three teams to Gersten Pavilion for the Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament. This year marks the second occurrence of LMU's holiday tournament, with the first coming in 2003. This year's field features Kansas State and Arkansas-Little Rock, who will open the tournament on Friday at 4 p.m., and Cal State Bakersfield, who will face LMU Friday at 6 p.m. The consolation game is slated for Saturday at 2 p.m., followed by the championship game at approximately 4 p.m.

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.
All four games of the Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament will be available live on Gametracker at www.LMULions.com.

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.

Be sure to visit www.LMULions.com for all the up-to-date information on the Lions. The site recently underwent an overhaul and visual upgrade so check out the new-look LMULions.com.

Revived after a four-year hiatus, this is the second incarnation of LMU's Holiday Tournament. Previously contested in 2003 as the Marina del Rey Marriott Beach Classic, that year's lineup featured LMU, Duke, Northwestern, and Hampton. In the opening day of play, fourth-ranked Duke defeated Hampton 90-59, setting up a championship game against LMU, who beat Northwestern 63-45. The consolation game had Northwestern beating Hampton 58-45 for third place. In the championship game, Duke rolled to an 81-53 victory over the hosts.

None of the current players on any of the four teams have played in the LMU Holiday Tournament, but there is one person at this year's tournament who was on the court back in 2003. Current LMU assistant coach Michelle Zylstra was a senior starter for Northwestern, helping the Wildcats to a third-place finish. Zylstra averaged 10.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Zylstra posted nine points and seven rebounds in the first round against LMU and followed it with 11 points and five rebounds in the consolation game win over Hampton.

The 2007-08 season marks the first full NCAA Division I campaign for Cal State Bakersfield, which is beginning the transition from Division II to the top flight. The Roadrunners are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament the next three seasons but can be invited to the WNIT as an independent. CSUB traveled to Cal State Northridge last Wednesday, getting a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds from Naomi Johnson in a 69-65 victory that snapped a two-game losing streak.
The Roadrunners had already faced three common opponents of LMU, losing to Pepperdine, UC Irvine, and Boise State. They are in the midst of a seven-game road trip that will also take them to Santa Clara and a post-New Year's tournament at the University of Texas-Pan American.
Kelly Tarver averages 17.3 ppg to pace four Roadrunners in double figures. Krista Arase contributes 12.8 ppg to go along with 6.1 apg while Johnson is also at 12.8 ppg while adding 7.8 rpg and shooting 57.4% from the floor. Christine Kepenekian supports with 11.4 ppg.
Head Coach Tim La Kose is 148-39 in seven seasons in Bakersfield and has a 15-year career coaching record of 278-100. Last season, the Roadrunners went 23-6, winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association (Division II) championship with a 20-2 mark. They played seven Division I opponents, going 2-5. They return five letterwinners and two starters.
Cal State Bakersfield has never faced any of the teams in this year's tournament.
CSUB vs. Tournament Field:
CSUB vs. LMU - First Meeting
CSUB vs. UALR - First Meeting
CSUB vs. KSU - First Meeting

Kansas State traveled to Creighton last Tuesday, dropping a 69-62 decision despite a balanced scoring effort that saw every Wildcat make at least one basket. Marlies Gipson led the way with 11 points and eight rebounds. KSU has won four of its last six.
Four players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Kimberly Dietz at 13.5 ppg. Ashley Sweat is second at 10.4 with Gipson close behind at 10.3 on 54% shooting. Shalee Lehning is shooting 56.7% from the floor for 10.0 ppg.
Now in her 12th season as head coach at Kansas State, Deb Patterson has compiled a record of 223-133. Last year, the Wildcats went 19-15, tying for 11th in the Big 12 with a 4-12 mark. KSU brings back eight letterwinners and four starters from that team.
K-State has faced two of the three teams in this season's tournament, going 1-1 with both games at home. The Wildcats beat LMU 73-49 at its tournament on November 29, 1986, and lost to Arkansas-Little Rock 62-59 a year later on November 27, 1987.
KSU vs. Tournament Field:
KSU vs. LMU - KSU leads 1-0
KSU vs. UALR - UALR leads 1-0
KSU vs. CSUB - First Meeting

Arkansas-Little Rock completed a two-game home stand with wins last week against Louisiana Tech and Florida International. On Thursday, the Trojans defeated Louisiana Tech 70-60 to extend their home winning streak to 11 games. Anshel Cooper had a season-high 27 points while Andrea Keys posted a double-double of 12 points and nine rebounds.They followed suit with a 65-45 victory over Florida International. Nikya Hughes had a game-high 22 points, adding 12 rebounds, for the Trojans' sixth win in their last seven games.
Hughes leads three players in double figures, averaging 14.2 ppg along with 7.3 rpg. Kim Sitzmann is second at 13.9 ppg. Cooper adds 10.4 ppg.
Joe Foley is in his fifth season as head coach at UALR, compiling a record of 58-67. He has a 20-year career coaching record of 517-145. Last year, the Trojans went 21-10, tying for second in the Sun Belt Conference with a 12-6 mark. They return seven letterwinners and three starters.
UALR has never faced Cal State Bakersfield or LMU but is 1-0 against Kansas State. The Trojans defeated the Wildcats 62-59 in Manhattan, KS, in 1987.
UALR vs. Tournament Field:
UALR vs. KSU - UALR leads 1-0
UALR vs. CSUB - First Meeting
UALR vs. LMU - First Meeting

LMU's first-ever trip to Washington, D.C. was an excellent one from an historical and educational perspective but far from a successful one in basketball terms. The Lions lost both their games by an average of 33.5 points and led for just 29 seconds in the 80 minutes of play. On Tuesday at #22 George Washington, the Colonials opened the game on a 12-0 run and never looked back, handing LMU an 85-46 loss. Sophomore Lisa Helmers scored 11 points to lead the Lions.
LMU regrouped on Thursday against Georgetown but again had to fight off an early deficit as the Hoyas scored the game's first 13 points. The Lion bench, led by sophomore Kavita Goss, came alive in the attempt to rally. Goss knocked down four three-pointers as LMU took a 21-20 advantage. They held close and only trailed by 10 at the half but Georgetown's post players were too much in a 75-49 victory. Goss finished with a career-high 17 points.

Through its visits to historic monuments, buildings, and parks, LMU saw that Washington, D.C. is a city of firsts for this nation. Unfortunately, there were several firsts for the Lions on the basketball court during the trip, as well. The 46 and 49 points scored were the lowest offensive outputs of the season and first time the Lions had been held under 54 points this season. The Lions also shot roughly 32% in each game, the lowest totals of the season, while giving up over 53% to both opponents, the first time this season they had conceded back-to-back 50+% shooting. Finally, the 31 turnovers committed at Georgetown were also a season-high and the most since committing 31 at Portland on January 9, 1999. It is a small consolation but, on the positive side, the Lions made a season-high nine three-pointers (tied for sixth-most in school history) and made a season-high 88.9% of their free throws at Georgetown while committing just 11 fouls in each game.
This will be the end of the discussion on LMU's play in Washington but to learn about the players' off-court experiences, check out the photo gallery and diary at www.LMULions.com.

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 40.5 total rebounds (tops in the WCC) and 14.0 offensive rebounds per game. The Lions have controlled the glass in eight games, posting a 6-2 record in those contests.
A big reason for the increase has been the play of senior Valerie Ogoke and redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans. The duo is combining for 13.5 rebounds per game, and each ranks in the conference's top ten. Ogoke is fourth at 7.5 rpg with Evans eighth at 6.60. But rebounding is a team effort, which bodes well for the Lions, who have seven players averaging 3.0 rebounds or more per game.

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 has led the Lions in scoring in a team-high three times and is the top scorer overall at 10.4 ppg. She is also averaging team-highs of 4.4 assists, 2.8 steals, and 31.8 minutes to go along with 3.2 rebounds per game.
DeCoud has scored in double figures in six games, including a career-high 21 against Cal Poly. True to her role as a point guard, she had a three-game stretch in which she averaged 7.3 assists, capping it with a career-best eight dimes against the Mustangs.
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.
DeCoud leads the WCC in steals per game, is fourth in assists, and 11th in scoring. She is also second in assist/turnover ratio (1.30) and ninth in free throw percentage to rank in the top-10 in four categories. She continues to climb the LMU career steals chart, currently in fifth place with 203.

The hottest player on LMU's roster right now has to be freshman Renahy Young, who recorded back-to-back 23-point outings in which she shot 70% from the floor against Fresno State and Cal Poly. Young entered that week averaging 6.3 ppg but exploded in those games for LMU season-highs. Although she only scored five points vs. UC Irvine, she showed the ability to adjust to the attention by dishing a career-high five assists.
Young is second on the team in scoring at 8.9 ppg (28th in the WCC) while shooting 32.4% from three-point range (tied for ninth in the WCC) and knocking down 70% at the line. She has shown her aggressiveness from the get-go, getting to the line 40 times.
In her debut at Boise State, Young had 11 points, four rebounds, and two assists in 22 minutes.

Senior Valerie Ogoke is breaking out of the shadows 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 8.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 47.8% from the field. She has three double-digit rebounding outings, leads the Lions in blocked shots with 23 and is fourth all-time at LMU with 117 career blocks.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 one of the finest all-around games by a Lion this season against UC Irvine. She went 5-for-9 from the floor, scoring 10 points to go along with eight rebounds, six steals, four blocks, and two assists in 30 minutes.
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 second in the WCC in offensive rebounds per game (3.31), 10th in defensive rebounds (4.15), and is fourth in overall rebounding to go along with being fifth in blocked shots (1.77 per game).

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 is one of two players to start all 13 games thus far and is averaging 8.1 ppg. She is a certifiable threat from downtown, making a team-high 27 three-pointers and is sixth in the WCC in makes per game (2.08).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 was the only player to score in double figures in both games in Washington, D.C., putting up 11 points in each contest.

Redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans has made the most of her opportunities after sitting out last season. Now coming off the bench after starting eight of the first nine games, Evans is second on the team in rebounding and blocked shots at 6.0 rpg and 1.1 bpg while adding 2.8 ppg in just 17 minutes a game. Evans has shown aggressiveness pursuing the boards, with four games of double-digit rebounds. She is also third on the team in offensive rebounds, grabbing 21.
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.

Junior Jenna Sybesma was settling into a comfortable rhythm as the first post player off the bench, parlaying that into a starting role for the last four of the last five games. 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 broke out for 98 points on 59% shooting over the next nine contests. She is tied for second with five games of double-digit scoring.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. She followed that with 19 more points in the win over Fresno State.
Overall, she is third on the team at 8.5 points (27th in the conference) and adds 3.8 rebounds in 18.6 mpg. She is fourth in the WCC in field goal percentage at 55.2%.

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.

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 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. Goss was a bright spot at Georgetown, scoring 14 first-half points and finishing with a career-high 17 points on five three-pointers.
She has raised her per-game average to 5.7 points and is second on the team with 14 makes from downtown.

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 her current pace, Ysaguirre will shatter the school record for shooting percentage in a season as she is off to a blistering 63.2% clip to start, going 24-for-38 from the floor. 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 had a tremendous all-around game with eight points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes vs. UC Irvine and made her first career start at Georgetown. She is averaging 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds (55% of which are offensive) in just 11.8 minutes per game.

The Lions suffered a blow on December 5 when sophomore Jessica Vargas fell awkwardly with 2:25 left. Everyone's worst fears were confirmed when it was determined that Vargas had torn her ACL and would miss the remainder of the season. The blow is a harsh one for the Lions and for Vargas in particular as she had been a steady contributor, starting six games in place of Cassady Moore. Vargas had 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. She was one of the most efficient players on the court, shooting 51.8% from the floor and pulling down 4.6 rebounds per game, including 19 on the offensive end. The good news is that Vargas should be able to petition for a medical redshirt.

Technically, freshman Renahy Young is serving as an understudy to senior Amanda DeCoud at point guard this season. Good thing Young hasn't read that memo as the pair are playing well while on the court at the same time. Against Cal Poly, Young led the way with 23 points with DeCoud just behind with 21. It was the first time since January 31, 2004 that LMU had two players score 20-plus points in the same game (Kate Murray, 28, and Adrianne Slaughter, 20).

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. The Lions have been led in scoring by seven different players in their first 13 games of the season. Already this season, nine players have established new career-highs.

Fans who witnessed LMU's second half explosion against Fresno State saw what the up-tempo Lion offense is capable of when it gets clicking. The Lions shot 63% en route to 55 points in the come-from-behind victory. The 55 points are the most scored in a half by LMU since it put in 56 against Santa Clara on February 23, 2006.

LMU's offense took off with back-to-back 80-point performances against Fresno State and Cal Poly. It marked the first time since 2000 that the Lions had reached the 80-point plateau in consecutive games.

LMU's 47 free throw attempts against Cal Poly was the most since going to the line 44 times at UC Irvine on November 21, 2005. As far as it being an LMU single-game record, nobody is sure. We do know that the Lions attempted 45 free throws on January 17, 2001, when they set the single-game record for makes with 34. Unfortunately, the record books are incomplete for the years before then so we're unsure if LMU attempted more than 47 free throws in any of the other games on the free throws made list. If you are reading this and know the answer, please contact the LMU athletics media relations office.

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.

The 2007-08 LMU roster features six players from outside California, four of which will get the pleasure of a road trip to their hometown this season. First up was redshirt freshman Maggie Burkett, who returned to her native Boise on Nov. 9 having claimed the Idaho Player of the Year award two years ago. Next to return home was sophomore Jessica Vargas when LMU visited Northern Arizona in Flagstaff on Dec. 2. Finally, senior Bronwyn Evans and freshman Lauren Wilkins will return to Portland on Jan. 10.
So far, those homecomings have not been too pleasant for LMU, who dropped both contests in Boise and Flagstaff.