MORAGA, Calif. — With two weeks of the West Coast Conference season in the books and all 10 teams still within striking distance of each other, the Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team looks to defend home court in key matchups this week against Portland and WCC preseason favorite Gonzaga.
The Gaels (7-8, 2-2 WCC) host the Pilots (3-12, 1-3 WCC) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. SMC takes on the Bulldogs (11-4, 2-2 WCC) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for this week’s contests are available on the SMCGaels.com tickets website or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx. Both games will be live streamed on the Gaels’ “GaelVision” Gameday Central page.
After the second week of WCC play the Gaels sit only one game behind three teams tied for first and are tied with three other rivals, including Gonzaga. Saint Mary’s beat San Francisco 75-72 on Saturday and will look to extend the winning streak on its home court and separate itself from the WCC pack.
The Pilots (3-12) opened their season with a decisive victory but have since struggled. They are currently riding a two-game losing streak after their only WCC win over Pepperdine (4-11). Portland is 2-7 on the road and has not beaten the Gaels in five years.
Portland has struggled statistically in the early part of the season sitting last or second to last in the WCC in nine major categories. Darian Slaga and Kaylie Van Loo are two bright spots for the Pilots. Slaga, a sophomore guard, is averaging a career and team-high 11.7 points per game, good for 17th in the WCC. The senior Van Loo is leading the WCC with 5.4 assist per game.
The Bulldogs (11-4) hold the best record in the WCC yet sit 2-2 in conference standings after dropping their first two conference games. Last week they evened their conference mark with back-to-back wins over San Francisco and Portland. Both Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s are coming off of home wins over San Francisco, who is also 2-2 in conference play.
Redshirt sophomore Jill Barta is having a career-season, leading the Bulldogs with 16 points (second in the WCC) and 6.7 rebounds (12th in the WCC). Kiara Kudron leads the Bulldogs in rebounding with 8.0 rebounds per game and sits second in the WCC in field goal percentage, shooting 55.7 percent. After four games of conference play, Gonzaga has dominated, sitting either first or second in over ten major statistical categories.
The Gaels will start a three-game road trip travelling to WCC leader Pacific on Jan. 19 and Pepperdine on Jan. 21.
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