Scrapy But Thin Lions Push No. 10 Zags
Men's basketball falls down the stretch at Gonzaga in a tight one.
Jan. 23, 2010
SPOKANE, Wash. -- A trademark of LMU men's basketball in the one-plus seasons under Head Coach Max Good is the ability to overcome adversity and leaving everything on the floor. The Lions added to that trademark by overcoming the loss of four starters to injury and giving 10th-ranked Gonzaga all they could handle.
However, the Lions fell just short down the stretch as the Bulldogs pulled away with free throws late for an 85-69 win in West Coast Conference action on Saturday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.
"I am really proud of our guys. I know it is an old cliché, but you know we are missing four starters from when we played at the start of the season at Montana," said Head Coach Max Good. "The fact we played zone most of the game is a tribute to them. They are obviously very good."
The Lions were led by a career-high 27 points from Vernon Teel, who played all 40 minutes and added seven assists. Drew Viney added 20 points and nine rebounds in 38 minutes for the Lions, who finished shooting 43.6 percent and fall to 10-11 on the season and 1-4 in the WCC.
Gonzaga finished the game shooting 51.8 percent and was led by Elias Harris with 22 points and eight rebounds. Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray added 19 and 18, respectively. They improve to 16-3 overall and 5-0 in conference.
It was a dogfight the entire way as the Lions fell down seven, 10-3, early in the first half, but would not go away and would take a 15-14 lead thanks to a 12-4 run that was capped by a three-pointer by Teel.
Gonzaga appeared to take control when they stretched the lead to 39-30 with 4:02 to play on a lay-up by Gray. However, the Lions closed the half with a 12-3 run as Given Kalipinde, who earned his first start of his career, hit a pair of free throws with one second left to tie it at 42 heading into the locker room.
LMU shot 53.3 percent to Gonzaga's 53.1 in the first half, holding the Zags to just 2-for-9 from long range.
The Zags would jump out early in the second half taking a nine-point lead four minutes into the game and stretch it to 17, 74-57, on a dunk by Bouldin with 8:25 to play.
That was as close as it would get as the Zags would close the game on an 11-3 run to end it.
"I thought the zone was effective in the first half and we played well," said Good. "However, playing a team like Gonzaga is like walking in a mine field. One missed step, and it could be disaster. We made a couple of mistakes late and it really cost us."
LMU hit just 32 percent in the second half to 50 percent for Gonzaga. On the game, the Lions finished just 16-for-32 from the free throw line while Gonzaga went 24-for-38.
"We fought so hard and our legs were getting pretty tired down the stretch," said Good. "But it is frustrating that we hit more free throws, we might have a shot. But I am proud of their effort. Are we happy? No. But I couldn't ask for more from their effort."
The Lions head home for Homecoming 2010: A 20th Anniversary Celebration. They will host San Diego on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m., and then on homecoming host Saint Mary's on Saturday, Jan. 30, also at 7 p.m. The homecoming game will feature a celebration of the 1989-90 team at halftime and during the tailgate party at 5 p.m.