Scrappy Lions Can't Hold Late Lead
LMU erases nine-point deficit to take second half lead but can't hold off Zags on Saturday.
Jan. 18, 2014
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Playing with just seven scholarship players in uniform, LMU erased a nine-point halftime deficit and took a lead late, but couldn't hold as Gonzaga claimed an 82-72 win over the Lions in West Coast Conference action on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman Evan Payne led the Lion with 19 points, Anthony Ireland added 13 points and nine assist for the Lions (10-10, 2-6). Sam Dower led all scorers with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Drew Barham came off the bench with 16 points, hitting 6-for-7 from the field, including a 4-for-5 clip from three. The Zags (16-3, 6-1) finished hitting 53.2 percent from the field, while the Lions went 42.4 percent.
"We fought our guts out," said Head Coach Max Good "We only had seven scholarship players in uniform and these guys really came together. We have a saying around here, as long as you compete, you never get beat. We lost the game, but we fought hard today."
The Lions turned the ball over nine times in the first half and saw the Zags hold a 14-7 edge in points off turnovers in building a 42-33 lead.
Gonzaga pushed the lead to 10, 48-38, on a Kyle Dranginis with 17:42 to play.
LMU would not go away, turning the ball over just three times in the second half to erase the lead while turning up their own defense. LMU forced the Zags into nine of their 15 turnovers in the second half. Zags finished with a slim 18-17 edge in points off turnovers.
It would start with a 10-0 run fueled by a pair of Nick Stover three-pointers to tie the game at 48-48 with 15:12 to play. Stover would finish with 10 points, four rebounds and two assists. Fellow sophomore C.J. Blackwell added 13 points and assist and a steal in 26 minutes off the bench.
Dranginis, who had nine points and four assists, gave the Zags a 50-48 edge on a jumper at the 14:51. The Lions would then take the lead on back-to-back baskets fueled by their defense. Gabe Levin would score on a jumper to tie the game at 50-50 and then after a Stover steal, Payne's lay-up in transition put the Lions up 52-50 with 14:11 to play.
The Lions would hold the Zags on their next three possessions and had a chance to extend the lead over the next four minutes but couldn't capitalize. The Zags took advantage, getting a Barham three-pointer with 12:24 to play to take the lead for good. Payne's three-point play with 10:57 to play cut the lead to a pair, 57-55, but the Lions would get no closer.
LMU will go back on the road for three straight, facing Pacific on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7 pm.