MORAGA, Calif. — Early-season struggles went to the wayside Friday at McKeon Pavilion for the Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team, as another impressive shooting performance helped conjure memories of Gaels teams from now and yesterday.
Saint Mary’s shot better than 50 percent Friday for the third time this season, as a 75-65 victory over visiting Northern Colorado not only gave the Gaels their first home victory of the year, but also handed head coach Paul Thomas his 200th win at the helm of the program.
“It means that we’ve had a lot of good players,” said Thomas about the significance of Friday’s milestone victory. “We’ve had a lot of good players that have played well together and play for the program, and I’m most proud of that.”
Friday was no different, as the Gaels shot 53.8 percent and boasted four players in double-figure scoring. SMC also tallied 17 assists – second-most this year. Carly Turner logged her first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. She also had a game-high four assists. Sydney Raggio also had 18 points with six boards and three helpers.
“I was very pleased with (the offense),” said Thomas. “We hit a dry spell there but I think we were pretty consistent on our offensive effort tonight. We wanted to build inside-out and I think we really established that from the beginning.”
Northern Colorado (7-3) fired 38 shots from long range but only made nine of them (23.7 percent). The Bears shot 37.9 percent from the floor. Savannah Scott led all players with 27 points, including four treys. Savannah Smith was UNC’s only other double-digit scorer with 11 (three 3-pointers).
Saint Mary’s once again dominated the rebounding game, winning 45-24 Friday night, including 30-11 on the defensive end. Four different Gaels had at least six boards. Stella Beck was one rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine off the glass. Jasmine Forcadilla tallied her first double-figure scoring game with 10 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
“We knew (Northern Colorado) was going to play inspired basketball,” said Thomas. “Credit to our team. They did a great job at the end. When you’re playing with a lead and that team starts feeling a little bit, I think our team did a very good job of standing strong and holding on to what the game plan was.”
For Thomas, his 200th career victory as the Saint Mary’s head coach comes one month past the 10 years mark since he earned his first – a 69-68 edging of Miami (Fla.) on Nov. 17, 2006. Thomas’ storied coaching career includes 436 wins across all three NCAA Divisions, two NCAA national championships, and numerous All-Americans, players of the year, all-conference honorees, and more.
“(Associate Head Coach) Tracy Sanders has over 200 wins here,” added Thomas. “It’s humbling. It makes you feel as though you’ve accomplished something, but it’s not my 200 wins. It really has little to do with what I’ve done. It has to do with the commitment that all the players since I’ve stepped on this campus have given to the program.”
Saint Mary’s continues its year-end home stand at 6:30 p.m. Monday against CSUN – its final non-conference game of the year. The game will be televised live on Comcast Hometown Network and in high definition on SMCGaels.com. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Gaels’ tickets website or by calling (925) 631-GoTx.
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