LOS ANGELES – After University of San Francisco (10-8, 2-3 WCC) took their first lead of the second half with three seconds to play, Loyola Marymount (6-10, 1-4) responded when Jeffery McClendon calmly knocked down all three free throws with 0.8 on the clock after being fouled on the game-winning three attempt to give the Lions their first conference win of the season, 67-65.
“The most important thing was our defense, keeping them to 65 points,” said Head Coach Mike Dunlap. “They have won every game when they have scored 73 or more points. We didn’t give them what they wanted. Offensively, I thought that coming down the backstretch, James Batemon had a lot of nice passes that led to easy scores. And Jeffery McClendon hitting those free throws was just fantastic.”
LMU carried a four-point lead at the half, and built it up to as high as eight in the second half.
After Eli Scott ended the first half with a layup at the buzzer, he opened the second half with a basket from the same spot in the paint. He dunked home the ball on his next touch to extend the LMU lead to 35-27. Scott led LMU with a game-high 18 points.
USF then cut it down to three, when Scott and Steven Haney, Jr. answered once more with a pair of baskets to bring it back to eight, 43-35 with 14:04 on the clock. Haney had a game-high 11 points before intermission and finished with 17, including four threes to move himself into lone possession of fifth all-time in program history.
“Steve’s confidence is there and he is hitting the NBA three,” said Dunlap. “That really stretches the floor and helps allow James to have space and read the defense.”
The Dons used a 6-0 run to make it a one-possession game, 43-41, before Mattias Markusson put back a tip-in. USF kept battling and hit a three to make it a 48-47 game, before Markusson hit a pair of shots with a midrange followed by a running with 9:05 to play. The Swedish center finished 6-for-7 from the field for 12 points.
A pair of USF free throws tied the score at 54-54 to cap a 6-0 run. The Lions responded with six straight of their own as James Batemon cut to the basket for a 60-54 lead.
Just before the final minute hit, McClendon forced a turnover and Markusson found him ahead for the fast-break layup to make it a 64-48 game.
San Francisco hit a three with 11.0 remaining to bring it within one, 64-63, and capitalized after LMU missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with a driving layup to go ahead 65-64, before McClendon decided the game with his three-straight free throws on the last play. LMU shot 8-for-10 from the line in the second half.
The Lions used 19 assists, the most against a Division I opponent this year, to snap a six-game losing streak.
Following the three-game home stand, Loyola Marymount hits the road for a Saturday matchup with San Diego (12-5, 3-2 WCC). The Toreros we defeated by Pacific on Thursday, 74-70. The game will tip at 7 p.m. on Spectrum Sportsnet.
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