As the final minutes came to a close in the Gaels’ victory over Washington State, so did the length of a long-standing record: all-time wins for a women’s basketball head coach at Saint Mary’s.
November 11th’s victory over the Cougars marked the 237th in Paul Thomas’ tenure at SMC (12+ seasons), breaking the previous record (236) set by Terri Rubenstein who coached the Gaels for 14 years between 1983 and 1997.
Thomas joined Saint Mary’s in 2006 after leading Cal Poly Pomona for 12 seasons including to back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championships in 2001 and 2002. Since his arrival on campus, he quickly turned the program into a 20+ win team by 2009, a landmark the Gaels had not reached in nearly 10 years. SMC has continued this trend ever since as they have recorded 20 or more wins in each of the last seven seasons. During that time, his teams have seen 34 All-West Coast Conference Team members and he has led the Gaels to nine-consecutive postseason appearances. Furthermore, since the 2009-10 season, the team has touted a .665 winning percentage (195-98).
“I am truly blessed to be the head women’s basketball coach at Saint Mary’s College,” said Thomas. “My appreciation for all the efforts of those around me can never be repaid. The records that have been achieved are a reflection of the quality of every student-athlete that has put on a Gaels uniform.”
Thomas’ all-time record as a head coach now stands at 473-307 (.606) as the Gaels gear up for the Saint Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic Friday, November 23-Saturday, November 24. The tournament will feature UC Riverside, Milwaukee, and No. 3 Oregon.