Jan. 13, 2005
SPOKANE, Wash. (Jan. 13) - The Loyola Marymount University men's basketball team had the sellout crowd of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center gasping for air as the Lions erased a 13-point halftime deficit and had a chance at the lead with less than six minutes remaining against the 20th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Zags, however, survived for a 76-65 win in West Coast Conference play on Thursday night.
LMU (9-7, 1-2) sophomore Matthew Knight paced both teams with 20 points and nine rebounds. Junior John Haywood continued his hot play in conference play with 13 points and six rebounds, while junior Wes Wardrop added 12. J.P. Batista led five Bulldogs (12-3, 2-1) in double figures with 17.
"I was really pleased on how we rebounded the ball for the game and executed our offense in the second half," said Head Coach Steve Aggers, whose Lions outrebounded the Zags 39 to 36. "We just could not hit our perimeter shots in the first half. If we make some of our shots in the first half, this game is a different story."
It was the first home game in over a month for the Zags, as they jumped out to a lead as large as 15 in the first half and enter the locker room with a 40-27 lead. The Lions struggled in the first half, starting the game 0-for-11 from the three-point line and hitting just 32.4 percent from the field.
"We executed really well and got the ball into the paint in the second half," said Aggers. "The tempo got away from us a while in the first half and they were able to get a big lead. But we fought hard and got it back and once again if we shoot better in the first half, this is such a different game." LMU finished the game shooting 39.4 percent to Gonzaga's 53.5 percent.
The Lions did recover in the second half. Down 13 with 17:20 remaining, the Lions went on a 11-1 run to make it 45-42 with 13:41 remaining on a jumper by Haywood in the paint. LMU would keep the lead at three with a jumper by freshman Jon Ziri, a pair of his five points on the game, with 12:06 remaining. Gonzaga would get the lead back to nine, 53-44, with 10:59 remaining on a dunk by Ronny Turiaf, who finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds.
LMU would not go away and another 11-3 run over a five-minute span put the Lions within one, 58-57 with 5:43 remaining in the game. During the run four different players scored, capped by Haywood's jumper. The Lions were down two when Wardrop's three-pointer missed with 5:11 remaining that would have given the Lions the lead.
"In the second half we were able to distribute the ball better and gave ourselves the chance to defeat a ranked team on their floor in conference play," said Aggers. The Lions finished the game with 20 assists, including a monster game from sophomore Damian Martin. The Australian native finished with seven assists and eight rebounds with just one turnover in 33 minutes.
Down four with 4:52 remaining, the Lions cut it back to a pair on Haywood's free throws, making it 61-59. Derek Ravio, who finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, hit a three-pointer to make it 64-59 with 4:38 remaining. It was just one of three three-pointers on the game for Gonzaga.
"I thought we did a good job on limiting their three-point attempts," said Aggers. "However, they did a great job in getting the ball into the paint. (Head Coach) Mark (Few) did a great job in starting their bigger lineup with Turiaf and Batista against our smaller front. They did a great job in getting the ball inside."
The Lions managed to get the lead to three one more time on a jumper by Dustin Brown with 3:35 remaining, making it 66-63. The Lions would get no closer as the Zags finished the game hitting 27-for-39 from the free throw line. LMU held the Zags to just nine field goals in the second half.
LMU will take on Portland as the road trip concludes on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 5:00 p.m. The game can be seen live on Fox Sports Net West 2.
- GO LIONS -