Short-Handed Lions Fall in WCC Battle
Three-pointer, bench play creates enough separation for defending champs as Lions fall late at Saint Mary's.
Jan. 5, 2013
MORAGA, Calif. -- It was a typical West Coast Conference showdown as LMU and Saint Mary's put on a show in the first WCC Game of the Week. It was the Gaels' three-pointer and a deeper bench that gave them a cushion they wouldn't let go of late, earning a 74-61 win on Saturday.
The Gaels (12-3, 1-0) hit eight three-pointers, three in a row to straddle half time, creating the cushion they needed to shake the Lions (7-8, 0-2). Saint Mary's finished hitting 8-for-22 from long range (36.4 percent) while the Lions hit 4-for-14 (28.6 percent). SMC would hit 50 percent from the field overall, compared to LMU's 41.4 percent. LMU would hit 9-for-10 from the charity stripe while SMC went 14-for-17.
"Really, those two the three-pointers to start the half really hurt us," said Head Coach Max Good. "We were a tad late on the rotation and they hurt us. It was back-and-forth the entire first half and those gave them just enough cushion that we were having to fight from behind."
Anthony Ireland led four Lions in double figures with 16 points. Ashley Hamilton had 15 points, while Ayodeji Egbeyemi and Alex Osborne had 10 each. Reigning Player of the Year Matthew Dellavedova led all scorers with 17.
Saint Mary's bench scored 32 points to LMU's two. The Lions were playing without starter Chase Flint, who hurt his right knee against BYU on Thursday. Flint was among the top-10 in the WCC in minutes and top-15 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio. Bruce English played 37 minutes with eight points and three assists in his first start.
"I thought our guys came to play and Bruce, Nick, Taylor gave us big, big minutes," said Good. "We have such a small margin right now, you can't make any mistakes against Saint Mary's. Give them a lot of credit, they made us pay when did make them."
It was a game of runs early that set the tone for a wild first half.
SMC took a 7-0 lead, while the Lions answered with a 9-0 run of their own to make it 9-7 in the first four minutes. It would set the tone for an up tempo back-and-forth affair the rest of the way.
The first half featured nine ties and six lead changes, the last coming at the buzzer when Jordan Giusti hit a 35-foot bank shot to give Saint Mary's a 33-30 lead at the break.
The three-pointer by Giusti was the first of three straight, as the Gaels hit back-to-back long balls to stretch the lead to seven, 39-32, to start the second half.
Hamilton's three-point play with 15:27 to play cut the lead to one, 42-41.
Saint Mary's then went on an 8-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers from Walker, for a 50-41 lead. Hamilton ended it at 12:25 with a 15-footer.
The teams would trade baskets as the Lions cut the lead to seven several occasions just to have SMC answer.
English cut it to 54-47 with jumper with 10:37 to play. The Lions would get no closer as Saint Mary's would score five straight for to stretch the lead to 59-47.
The Lions return home to face Santa Clara on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. The game will be on Lions' All-Access through LMULions.com and on KXLU 88.9 FM.