MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (21-10) hosts UNLV (22-9) on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. in McKeon Pavilion. The Women's National Invitational Tournament first-round game features two of the top teams in the WCC and Mountain West.
The match-up will have live stats and free live video. Also, the first 100 kids in attendance will get an SMC snap wrist band.
The Gaels have had four previous WNIT appearances, with the only victory coming during the 1999-2000 campaign. The last two seasons, the Gaels have hosted WNIT first-round games with losses to Utah (2009-10) and Nevada (2010-11). Saint Mary's is 0-2 all-time against the Runnin' Rebels, having played UNLV in both 2002 and 2004.
Saint Mary's has one of the top RPI's in the West Region (WNIT schools), entering the WNIT at No. 51. The Gaels have faced several NCAA Tournament teams this season, including wins over Gonzaga and Brigham Young. Other NCAA qualifying teams the Gaels have faced include DePaul, UC Santa Barbara and California.
If the Gaels can win a couple games in the WNIT, they have a shot to set the school record for rebounds in a single season. Entering the week ranked No. 9 in the nation in Rebounding Margin, Saint Mary's has 1,308 rebounds this season. The school single-season record is 1,420.
In addition to having eight games against NCAA Tournament teams, Saint Mary's has played seven games against teams in the WNIT (San Diego twice, Oregon State, UC Davis, Cal Poly, Quinnipiac and Pacific).
UNLV Lady Rebels
UNLV went 10-4 in the Mountain West this season. The Rebels have faced a pair of common opponents with the Gaels this season. In early december, the Rebels lost at California 70-48 and defeated UC Santa Barbara 46-44.
UNLV is led by Kelli Thompson with 13.7 points per game while Lenita Sanford adds 10.8 ppg and 7.4 rebounds per game. Jamie Smith is the rebounding leader at 8.4 rpg. As a team, UNLV shoots 38.2 percent from the field and 28.3 percent from three-point range. The Rebels outrebound their opponents by a +5.4 margin per game.