WBK | WCC Play Kicks Off With Top Opponents
The Saint Mary's women's basketball team opens West Coast Conference play versus two preseason top-five teams
MORAGA, Calif. -- The Saint Mary's women's basketball team starts its 2017-18 West Coast Conference schedule this week against two preseason top-five teams, traveling to Loyola Marymount on Thursday for its conference opener before hosting BYU on Saturday.
Thursday, Dec. 28, 7 p.m. - Saint Mary's (7-4, 0-0 WCC) at Loyola Marymount (8-3, 0-0 WCC)
Saturday, Dec. 30, 2 p.m. - BYU (5-6, 0-0 WCC) vs. Saint Mary's
LAST TIME OUT
Saint Mary's won back-to-back games in West Lafayette, Ind., on Dec. 17 and 18 before falling in the championship game of the Basketball Travelers Inc. Invitational on Dec. 20 versus host Purdue. The Gaels turned the ball over 15 times in the first half, but shot 66.7 percent after halftime and pulled to within two points on two separate occasions before the Boilermakers ran away with a 15-3 run late in the fourth quarter.
ABOUT SAINT MARY'S
The Gaels (7-4, 0-0 WCC) begin conference play two wins ahead of their pace from last year. SMC entered WCC play in 2016-17 with a 5-6 record and went on to finish second in the conference standings, make their eighth straight postseason appearance and log their sixth straight 20-win campaign. Saint Mary's has lost three of its last five games after starting the season 5-1. All three of its most recent losses have been by double digits.
The Gaels feature three players averaging at least 14.0 points per game, led by Sydney Raggio at 14.9. Raggio also leads the team with 8.8 rebounds per game. Her five double-doubles on the year are tied for the conference lead and are among the top-40 in the nation. Saint Mary's is still among the country's best shooting teams (19th, 47.9 percent) and ranks among the country's top-100 in scoring offense, assists and assists per game, rebounding margin and free-throw attempts.
ABOUT LOYOLA MARYMOUNT
The Lions (8-3, 0-0 WCC) started the season 7-0, but have lost three of their last four games. They are 5-2 at home, but have lost two of their last three games at Gersten Pavilion, the only win coming against 2-9 UC Santa Barbara. LMU most recently fell, 63-60, at SMU in Dallas on Dec. 20. The Lions were picked to finish fifth in the WCC Preseason Poll.
The Lions rank among the WCC's top-five in 17 different categories. They are the conference's best rebounding team (43.6 per game) and hold opponents to a conference-low 28.0 3-point field goal percentage. Cheyanne Wallace leads the Lions with 17.4 ppg. Gabby Green is right behind her at 15.4 ppg, while Bree Alford is the conference's second-best rebounder at 9.4 rpg.
The Cougars (5-6, 0-0 WCC) have won two of their last three games to snap a four-game losing streak. BYU has shared three opponents with the Gaels this season, beating Utah and Eastern Washington while losing to California on Dec. 16. The Cougars have only won one road game (1-4), beating EWU, 73-69, in Cheney, Wash., back on Nov. 17.
BYU has struggled on both ends of the court this season, ranking second-to-last in the WCC for scoring offense (68.4 ppg) and fifth in defense, allowing the same points they score at 68.4 per game. They're also ranked among the conference's bottom three in free-throw percentage, 3-point field goal defense, rebounding defense and rebounding margin. The Cougars do have some of the WCC's top individuals, including the conference's top scorer in Cassie Devashrayee (20.1 ppg). Brenna Chase has made the most 3-pointers of any WCC player with 23 in 11 games. Shalae Salmon is second in the WCC with 13 blocks.
West Coast Conference play continues in the New Year with a two-game California road trip. Saint Mary's heads to Pacific on Jan. 4, then takes on San Diego in Southern California on Jan. 6. Live coverage links for both games can be found on SMCGaels.com.
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