MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (15-6, 6-2 West Coast Conference) continues its toughest stretch of the year with four games in eight days, as the Gaels host Santa Clara (8-11, 1-5 WCC) and No. 20 Gonzaga (17-3, 6-1 WCC). On Thursday night, SMC hosts SCU at 7:00 p.m. in McKeon Pavilion. Saint Mary's returns to action on Saturday afternoon, welcoming No. 20 Gonzaga at 2:00 p.m.
This is the first meeting between the Broncos and Gaels this year. Santa Clara is the final West Coast Conference squad that the Gaels have yet to face in 2011-12. Saint Mary's is 26-27 all-time against Santa Clara with the Gaels winning nine of the last 10 meetings, including season sweeps the past four seasons dating back to the 2007-08 campaign. The Broncos did have one win during that stretch, a victory at the 2009 West Coast Conference tournament on a neutral court.
This will be the second meeting between the Zags and Gaels in the last two weeks. Back on January 14 in Spokane, the Gaels ended an 0-17 streak against Gonzaga in a 66-63 win. The Zags had not lost a conference game in nearly three seasons, going 34 straight WCC games without a loss.
First-Half of WCC action (6-2, what went right):
The Gaels won their first three conference games at Loyola Marymount and home against Brigham Young and San Francisco. Saint Mary's also had wins at Portland, at No. 23 Gonzaga and home against Pepperdine.
The highlighted wins for the Gaels came against the top three WCC Preseason Picks (1. Gonzaga, 2. BYU, 3. Pepperdine). The road win in Spokane was a surprise as the Gaels had lost 17 straight to the Zags, before claiming the 66-63 win. Gonzaga had also not lost a WCC game in nearly three years, dating back 34 conference games.
The Gaels seemingly stole a victory at home against BYU. Saint Mary's did not record a field goal for the first 15 minutes of the second half and fell behind by eight points. The Gaels tied it late and Jasmine Smith stole the inbounds pass and drew a shooting foul to ice the game.
First-Half of WCC action (6-2, what went wrong):
Saint Mary's suffered two setbacks in its first eight WCC games. There was not much the Gaels could do in a 77-60 loss at home to San Diego. The Toreros shot over 50 percent for the game and never really let the Gaels closer than 11 points.
The toughest loss to take came at San Francisco in a 66-64 defeat. The Gaels had won nine straight over the Dons, including a 22-point victory earlier this season. USF had a player go 9-for-11 with a career-high 32 points which was too much for the Gaels to overcome. Even though SMC outrebounded USF by 20, the Dons had a steal in the final seconds and a fast break lay-up that just beat the buzzer to hand the Gaels their first "upset loss" in a long time.