MORAGA, Calif. — After a wild opening weekend, West Coast Conference play rolls on in 2017 for the Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team as the Gaels travel to BYU on Thursday before beginning a three-game home stand Saturday versus Bay Area rival San Francisco.
The Gaels (6-7, 1-1 WCC) head to Provo, Utah, to face the Cougars (7-6, 1-1 WCC) at 6 p.m. PST Thursday. The game will be televised live on BYU.tv. Saturday SMC hosts co-WCC leader San Francisco (8-5, 2-0 WCC) for a 1 p.m. matinee. The game will be broadcast live on the Gaels’ “GaelVision” Gameday Central page.
A tumultuous opening week in WCC play last week saw all top-four teams in the preseason poll lose at least one game, with preseason favorite Gonzaga going 0-2. Saint Mary’s dominated LMU on Thursday to win its sixth straight WCC opener, but a buzzer-beater at San Diego Saturday handed it a 73-71 defeat.
The Cougars (7-6, 1-1 WCC) were just one first-place vote and one total point behind Gonzaga for the top spot in this season’s WCC preseason poll. But that didn’t matter Thursday when the Cougars fell 64-63 at Santa Clara. BYU recovered Saturday and beat LMU at home. The Cougars have lost three of their last five but have won two of their last three at home – the lone loss coming versus then-No. 9 Washington.
The Cougars have used the same starting lineup all year. Cassie Broadhead leads the team with 17.1 points per game. Kalani Purcell is just shy of averaging a double-double with 12.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest. BYU has been outrebounded this season 39.1 to 35.8. The Cougars’ 62.8 points allowed and 37.7 percent opponents field goal percentage both stand as the second-best scoring defense in the WCC.
ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO
The Dons (8-5, 2-0 WCC) topped San Diego on the road and then beat Santa Clara at home to start the WCC season unbeaten. The defending WCC Tournament champions averaged 79.5 points per game and held their opponents under 70 in both games. San Francisco is 2-4 on the road this year but has won two straight away from home.
USF is led by Rachel Howard’s 14.5 ppg and 5.4 rpg. Kalyn Simon is the best 3-point shooter in the WCC, making treys at a 50.0 percent rate. The Dons are the fourth-best rebounding team in the WCC at 39.4 rpg. They lead all WCC teams in defensive rebounds with 28.5 per contest. USF has committed the fourth-most turnovers in the conference but are fifth in turnover margin at -0.54.
MAULDIN NOT UNDONE IN THE CLUTCH
Shannon Mauldin was not fazed by the pressure at the free-throw line Saturday at San Diego. The fifth-year senior put down four straight free throws in the final 46 seconds to keep Saint Mary’s close. She also made one from the charity stripe at the 3:47 mark. For the season, Mauldin is 6 for 7 shooting free throws with less than 5 minutes to play, including a perfect 4 for 4 with less than two minutes on the clock.
The Gaels continue a three-game home stand with two contests at McKeon Pavilion on Jan. 12 and 14, hosting Portland and Gonzaga respectively. Tickets are available for purchase on the Gaels’ tickets website or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.
SUPPORT THE GAELS
A gift to the Gael Athletic Fund directly benefits Saint Mary's student-athletes, allowing them the opportunity to attain an education guided by our Catholic, Lasallian and Liberal Arts traditions. Click the link for more information.
FOLLOW THE GAELS
@SMCGaels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) SMC_Gaels (Snapchat)