Half Dozen Just Short

Alex Osborne

March 1, 2014

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LOS ANGELES -- Entering the final game of the regular season and playing with just six players, LMU men's basketball was facing an uphill battle against a San Francisco team that was on a four-game winning streak and has its most West Coast Conference wins since 1978-79.

The Lion-Six gave the Dons all they could handle on senior day. C.J. Blackwell's three-pointer to tie the game with two seconds left was long and the Dons would hold for a 65-61 win in the final WCC regular season contest.

LMU (12-18, 4-14) will face Portland in the first round of the WCC tournament at 6 pm on Thursday, Mar. 6. The Dons (20-10, 13-5) earn the No. 3 seed and will face the No. 6 seed San Diego Toreros in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Mar. 8 at 12 noon.

Three Lions scored 13 points, including senior Anthony Ireland, who played in his 130th game as a Lion. Blackwell also had 13, as did freshman Evan Payne. Nick Stover added 10, while senior Alex Osborne, playing in his 123rd, had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Avery Holmes led all scorers with 25 points, hitting 4-for-5 from three and 8-for-10 from the field. His four-point wing with 33 seconds to gave the Dons just enough breathing room. Cole Dickerson had 14 and Kruize Pinkins had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Already down to seven players for the past month, the Lions were without leading rebounder, freshman Gabe Levin, who was out due to a concession.

"We knew we were short-handed, but this team really came together and left everything on the floor," said Head Coach Max Good. "It was an appropriate effort on a day we honored two seniors who have played more game than anyone in our history. I was proud of them. Disappointed in the result, but we really battled."

The loss of Levin showed on the glass as the Dons held a 42-27 edge in rebounding.

Despite the lack of man power, the Lions never went away. USF built an eight-point lead at the half and then extended it to nine, 56-47, with 5:44 to play on a Holmes three-pointer.

LMU stormed right back, going on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 56-54 with 3:41 to play. The run started with a Blackwell three-pointer, a lay-up by Ireland after a Payne steal and then a Stover lay-in on an Ireland steal.

"We really played as a team tonight," said Good. "It showed in everything we did. We were so short-handed, we really had to help on defense and run our offense to get the right shots. For the most part, we did it all night."

Holmes would put the lead back to five on a three-pointer with 3:16 to play. A lay-up by SSTover and a pair of free throws by Payne would put LMU within one, 59-58 with 1:17 to play. Holmes would do more damage with the four-point swing, getting a lay-up and an and-one opportunity with 33 seconds left. He would then hit two free throws with 20 seconds left to make it 64-58 with 20 seconds left.

LMU wasn't done. Blackwell hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds to play making it 64-61. After a timeout, the Lions would force a five-second call and get the ball back, setting up Blackwell's final attempt.

USF finished hitting 49 percent from the field and 6-for-14 from three (42.9 percent), Dickerson adding the other two. However, they went just 11-for-22 from the free throw line. LMU was 42.9 percent from the field and finished 6-for-20 (30 percent) from three. They were 7-for-12 from the free throw line.




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