Depth, Shooting Hurt Lions
Despite a performance from Anthony Ireland that earned an ovation from the Gonzaga fans, Lions fall to No. 6 Zags.
Feb. 9, 2013
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Playing the deepest team in the West Coast Conference, and one of the deepest in the nation, it was LMU's lack of depth and more shooting woes that disrupted a spirited effort against sixth-ranked Gonzaga. The Lions would fall 74-55 as foul trouble and 29.8 shooting would help the Zags pull away in the second half at the McCarthy Center in Spokane on Saturday night.
"You better believe depth played a factor tonight," said Head Coach Max Good. "You have to have at least 10 players to be able to compete up here. I have the utmost respect for Gonzaga and this program. They are very, very good."
Junior guard Anthony Ireland scored 30 of the Lions' 55 points and when he left with one minute to play in the game, he drew an ovation from the 6,000 fans at McCarthey Athletic Center. He was the only Lion in double figures, hitting 8-for-20 from the field, 2-for-6 from the three-point line and 12-for-14 from the charity stripe.
"Anthony is a special player, and such a great human being," said Good. "He works so hard to make the team around him better. We just didn't get shots to fall. And we got quality shots for the most part tonight. We had some do everything but go in. They just wouldn't go down for us."
LMU went 17-for-57 from the field, 3-for-16 from three but hit 81.8 percent from the line (18-for-22). Gonzaga finished 51.1 percent from the field, hitting just 5-for-15 from three, four of them from Kevin Pangos, who had 20 points. Kevin Olynyk also had 20 on 7-for-8 shooting.
"That's a competitive team (LMU)," said Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few. "When you have a guy like Ireland who is a tough, tough guy, he is not going to quit. They came in here ready to fight. They have some very talented players like all Division I teams do. Especially this time of year everyone has to go, everyone is beat up and it's really tough to get yourself through these games."
Ireland had 15 points in the first half as the Lions trailed by just 11 despite 22 percent shooting. Ashley Hamilton's three-pointer with the first possession of the second half cut the lead to eight 36-28 despite the shooting.
However, the Lions' depth became an issues as the three bigs had 11 fouls with 15 minutes still to play. Alex Osborne would go on to foul out with 10:26 to play, Godwin Okonji with 4:30 on the clock, and Hamilton with a minute left. The Bulldogs were in the double bonus with more than eight minutes to go in the game.
The Lions got production from its entire bench as walk-ons Taylor Walker and Adam Drexler combined to play 30 minutes. Drexler had a career-best four points and four rebounds. He had three points total for the season going into the game.
The result saw Gonzaga go to their strength as they had eight of their 12 second chance points in the second half, getting nine of their 14 offensive rebounds in the second frame. The Lions, however, outscored the Bulldogs 15-12 in second chance points thanks to 15 offensive rebounds.
The Lions stayed in striking distance with 11 steals, forcing Gonzaga into 15 turnovers. They held a 15-7 edge in points off turnovers for the game.
"We played aggressive all night," said Good. "We have to learn how to consistently play this way."
The Lions return to Southern California to face Pepperdine in Malibu on Thursday at 7 p.m. Listen to the game on KXLU 88.9 FM.
GAME NOTES: Anthony Ireland became the first player since Brandon Worthy in 2006 to have at least two 30-point games in one season. He matched his career-high of 30 set against Oral Roberts. He is just the third player (Worthy and Matthew Knight) to do it since 1992. Ireland now has 1,374 points in his career, surpassing former teammate Drew Viney for 15th all-time and one point behind Bill Donovan, who is 14th with 1,375 points.