The winner of the SMC/UNC match-up will take on the winner of San Diego State at Brigham Young (game is being played on Saturday).
Saint Mary’s will have its work cut out, playing at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, where the Bears are 12-1 this season. Northern Colorado advanced to the Big Sky Championship game and lost to Montana. UNC won on the road at Wyoming by a 71-63 score, to advance to the WNIT second-round.
The Bears and Gaels have played one common opponent this year. UNC played at San Diego way back on November 23rd, a 78-44 win for the Toreros.
While the Gaels did not play Portland State during the SMC Hilton Concord Classic, the Vikings did play in Moraga. PSU lost twice to UNC this season.
Saint Mary’s will look to match last season’s win total, having totaled 83 wins over the last four years which includes four consecutive WNIT appearances. Last year the Gaels advanced to the second round after defeating UNLV. The Gaels lost to Oregon State in Corvallis.
Saint Mary’s is led by West Coast Conference scoring leader Jackie Nared (16.8ppg, 8.8 rpg) and WCC rebounding leader Danielle Mauldin (13.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg). The duo has combined for 31 double-doubles, led by Mauldin’s 17 and Nared’s 14.
This will be the third ever meeting between UNC and SMC. The Gaels won both previous meetings. On December 19, 2009, the Gaels won in Greeley by a 74-69 score. On Decmeber 30, 2007, SMC won in McKeon Pavilion by a 73-62 margin.
In the previous match-up at Butler-Hancock Pavilion, Kate Gaze and Ashlee Smith are the only two Gaels remaining from that game. The Bears led the Gaels 69-68 with 1:25 remaining, but the Gaels scored the final six points of the game to earn the 74-69 victory.
In the SMC single season record book, Mauldin’s 325 rebounds ranks 4th in school history. The top three season’s are No.1 Jermisha Dosty (344, 2001-02), No.2 Louella Tomlinson (343, 2009-10) and No. 3 Jermisha Dosty (333, 2000-01). Jackie Nared’s 504 points ranks 10th all-time at SMC.