MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (16-6, 8-2 West Coast Conference) heads to the Pacific Northwest this week. On Thursday night, the Gaels take on first-place Gonzaga (20-5, 10-1 WCC) at 6:00 p.m. in Spokane. On Saturday night, Saint Mary's travels to Portland to take on the Pilots (10-14, 5-6 WCC) at 7:00 p.m. in the Chiles Center.
Saint Mary's enters the week having won five of its last six games and a stellar 7-3 record in road games. Last week the Gaels were home and defeated Portland 58-53 and Brigham Young 64-52.
The Gaels are led by Jackie Nared with 17.9 ppg and 9.1 rpg. Danielle Mauldin adds 14.2 ppg and 11.2 rpg while Kate Gaze is also in double figures averaging 11.8 ppg.
Saint Mary's has had players tally a total of 26 double-doubles this season. Mauldin leads the way with 12 double-doubles, while Jackie Nared has recorded 11. Morgan Hatten has three double-doubles this season.
Gonzaga leads the all-time series with SMC, but the squads have split the last four meetings. Last year the Gaels ended the Bulldogs WCC winning streak at 34 games, but GU defeated SMC in the WCC Tournament semifinals. Earlier this season in McKeon Pavilion, Saint Mary's handed Gonzaga a 54-51 defeat.
The Bulldogs enter the week riding an eight game winning streak, with their last loss coming at Saint Mary's. During the eight-game streak, Gonzaga is outscoring its opponents by an average margin of 22.5 ppg. The closest game during the streak was a 12-point win at San Diego.
Haiden Palmer leads Gonzaga with 13.0 ppg and a team high 78 steals. Taelor Karr adds 10.4 ppg and has connected on 49 three-pointers this year, shooting at .445 from behind the arc. Gonzaga outrebounds its opponents by nearly five per game.
Portland has won five of its last seven conference games, including last week's split, losing a close one at Saint Mary's and thumping Pepperdine in Malibu 73-34.
The Pilots are led by Kari Luttinen with 12.5 ppg. Annika Holopainen was last week's WCC Player of the Week which included a 26-point performance in Moraga. Holopainen comes off the bench and is second on the team averaging 9.9 ppg. Amy Pupa, who has had a 19 rebound game this year, leads the Pilots in rebounding with 7.7 rpg.
Saint Mary's has won the last seven match-ups with the Pilots, with the last SMC loss to UP in 2009.