LOS ANGELES -- The heated rivalry the last four years that is San Francisco and LMU was at it again on Thursday night in Los Angeles, as yet another meeting went down to the final seconds. Cody Doolin hit a lay-in with 0.5 left to lift the Dons to a 61-59 victory in West Coast Conference action.
LMU erased a 20-point deficit and held a 59-56 lead after an Alex Osborne lay-in and two Ashley Hamilton free throws on a USF technical with 2:20 to play. The Dons would tie it on Cole Dickerson's fourth three-pointer of the game with a minute to play.
The Lions were forced to launch a three at the shot clock buzzer on their next possession and the Dons took over with just over 20 seconds to play to set-up Doolin's winner. Chase Flint half court shot at the buzzer was long.
Dickerson finished with 16 points and Doolin added 13. Anthony Ireland had 21 points, 15 in the second half to lead the comeback. Ashley Hamilton and Alex Osborneadded 11 each, combining for 17 rebounds as the Lions held a 37-27 edge on the glass.
"We just didn't play defense very well in the first half and they jumped on us," said Head Coach Max Good, whose Lions fall to 1-8 in WCC games decided by 10 points or less, including five in the final 25 seconds. "We played great defense in the second half and once again we are handed a heartbreaker. We just didn't make the play in the final seconds and they did. Credit Doolin, he is a good player."
The Dons built a 20-point first half lead only to see the Lions tie it with just over four minutes to play to set-up another fantastic finish in the last four years of the WCC rivalry.
The Dons hit six of their first nine three-pointers in the first 15 minutes to build a big early lead. They finished with seven in the half and shot 51.7 percent in the first 20 minutes to take a 40-25 lead at the break.
With USF leading 44-29, LMU's defense stiffened as the Dons started the second half 1-for-8 from the field. The Lions would hold the Dons without a point for over nine minutes and cut the lead to four, 44-40, with 10:29 to play.
LMU would force USF into 17 turnovers and hold a 27-16 edge in points off turnovers.
"Our defense was the key," said Good. "We were flat defensively early, and in going to the press we got aggressive and it keyed our offense. We played very good defense in the second half. It was a very disappointing finish."
Taylor Walker got the lead to single digits and then two free throws from Hamilton on a flagrant foul cut it to 44-37. Hamilton then hit a three with 10:24 to play to make it 44-40, extending the run to 11-0.
USF Cole Dickerson broke the scoreless stretch with a jumper with 9:53 to play, making it 46-40. The Lions got the points right back on a Hamilton lay-in, and Ireland stretched the Lions run to 16-2 by cutting the lead to just one, 46-45, with 7:58 to play.
Doolin and Dickenson stopped the bleeding, making it 48-45 with 6:56 to play with a drive to the basket and the Dons first three-pointer in the second half to make it 51-45 with 6:17 to play.
Ireland's lay-in in traffic cut the lead to four, 51-47. He did it again with 5:04 to play to make it 51-49. And then again with 4:31 on the clock to tie the game at 51-51.
It was short lived as Dickerson hit a three with a defender in his face to give the Dons the lead right back, 54-51. The teams would trade free throws and Ireland's pair with 2:45 to play made it a one-point game, 56-55, to set-up the final couple minutes.
After starting 6-for-9 from long range, the Dons finished the rest of the game 4-for-17 for three. They hit 38.5 percent (10-for-26) for the game and finished 45.8 percent from the field overall. LMU finished hitting 36.8 percent overall and just 4-for-15 from three. Both teams combined to miss just three free throws as LMU went 13-for-15 and USF 7-for-8.
The Lions travel to Cal Poly for the BracketBuster match-up on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. Listen live on KXLU 88.9 FM.
GAME NOTES: Ireland's 21 points gives him 1,440 on his career, moving him to 11th all-time in LMU history. He needs 26 to crack the top-10.
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