A Respectful Close
Anthony Ireland and Alex Osborne combined to play more games than any in history and their careers close in WCC quarterfinals.
March 8, 2014
Anthony Ireland and Alex Osborne's final game.">
LAS VEGAS - The final score of the second quarterfinal of the 2014 West Coast Conference basketball championships will show BYU earning an 85-74 win over LMU on Saturday afternoon at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
What happened after the final buzzer was a tribute to a career.
Senior Anthony Ireland walked off the college court for the final time, ending a four-year career that can only be defined by the response that awaited him.
Ireland was greeted by dozens of fans telling him of their admiration of his game and of his career. ESPN analyst Sean Farnham waited specifically for the senior just to hug him and tell him it was an honor to cover him.
WCC Director of Men's Basketball Officials and former Final Four referee David Libbey, came out to meet Ireland, telling him that he has been in the game for over 40 years, covering players from Gary Payton, John Stockton, Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble and many more of the games top names.
He finished by telling Ireland that he might be one of the best he has ever seen and has nothing but respect for his game.
Ireland finishes his career playing in every one of the 132 games LMU played in the last four years, while also starting 125, including the last 89 straight games. His final game saw him go for 19 points, his 53rd straight game in double digits, hitting 9-for-10 free throws with four assists and one steal.
"Anthony Ireland has so much respect throughout the league, even the officials waited for him after the game. He's very confident, but he is not arrogant. He has humility, he respects the game, he shows respect to everybody and conversely, he gets respect from everybody," said Head Coach Max Good. "I think he's had more burden than anyone else in the league, with all the guys we've had go down, but he never complains, never."
He finishes with 2,169 points, 557 assists, 517 rebounds and 200 steals.
IRELAND'S FINALE - final career rankings at LMU
"My career has been about all the teammates that have been a part of this," said Ireland at the post game press conference with fellow senior Alex Osborne, who played in 124 games, second behind only Ireland all-time at LMU. "I never thought this day would come for me, and I did hear the fans yelling my name and cheering for me, and it was just a good feeling."
Joining Ireland in double figures on the night was the youth of the LMU program as Gabe Levin was two off a career-high with 18 points and 10 rebounds, the sixth double-double of his rookie season. Fellow freshman Evan Payne finished with 15 points and sophomore Nick Stover wrapped up an impressive two games in Las Vegas with 12 points and five rebounds.
It wasn't enough to overcome BYU, specifically the double-double posted by Kyle Collinsworth. He went for 23 points and 16 rebounds, both career highs. Tyler Haws added 22 points, followed by Anson Winder with 16 and Matt Carlino with 11.
Turnovers hurt the Lions as they committed 16, four more than their season average. BYU had just nine. LMU shot below 40 percent for the second straight game, hitting 37.1 percent compared to BYU's 46.2 percent. The Lions held the Cougars without a three-pointer, going 0-for-12. LMU was 4-for-18.
BYU started out quick, running the lead to 18, 39-21, on a jumper by Haws with 5:26 to go in the first half.
But in a run that defined the Lions during Ireland's career, they didn't go away. They went on a 15-4 run to close the half, getting a three-point play from Stover on an Ireland assist to make it 43-36 at the break.
Looking to have the momentum, the Cougars kept the Lions at arms length the rest of the way. They pushed the lead to 12 only to see the Lions cut it to eight on a dunk by Levin and free throw by Payne with 15:52 to play.
BYU got the lead to 13 on a jumper by Haws and kept it there on free throws by Eric Mika with 9:21 to play. LMU would get it down to nine again on a pair of free throws from Ireland and lay-up by Payne with 8:20 to play.
The trend continued one more time as the BYU lead got to 13 on a Collinsworth jumper just to see the Lions get it to nine again on a free throw by Stover with 5:40 to play. He would miss the second and it would be as close as the Lions would get as the lead got to 15 with 2:51 to play.
The Lions lack of depth again showed itself as they were outscored 19-3 off the bench. LMU finished the game hitting 24-for-30 (80 percent) from the free-throw line while BYU went 25-for-36.