Rescue Mission In Team Effort
Anthony Ireland leads Lions to 78-75 despite fewest minutes since fourth game of career.
Nov. 8, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- For 36 minutes of LMU's season opener, senior Anthony Ireland sat in the background playing just 18 minutes at that point, leading his young team from the bench as they built a 13-point halftime lead and then saw Grand Canyon take it away. Ireland then came out and delivered when the Lions needed him most.
Down one with 1:22 to play, Ireland hit an open Chase Flint in the corner and the junior drilled an open three-pointer with 1:02 to play to lift the Lions to a 78-75 win in the season opener at Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego.
"If you would have told me Anthony would play just 22 minutes and hit just 4-of-12 from the field, I would have told you we would be down 20," said Head Coach Max Good. "He came out and saved us. But it was his leadership that did the most. Every timeout he was on the team to stick together, and they did. We got great production from new guys and guys who haven't played in a while. While Anthony came in and did what he does best, I was proud of our team and the way they fought through a game that didn't have much flow."
Ireland finished leading the team with 14 points, three assists, and four rebounds. Fellow senior Ayodeji Egbeyemi had 11 points and five rebounds. It was two newcomers that joined them in double figures as Ben Dickinson had 12 points while Gabe Levin finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
"Gabe was great in his first game and was really aggressive. In his first college game to play 35 minutes, that is tough," said Good. "Ben worked hard in fronting the post in his first game in two years. Deji made some great defensive stops down the stretch and Chase hit a gritty, gritty shot in the corner. They played well as a team."
The Lions built a 13-point lead at the break, thanks in large part to the play in the post by Levin and Dickinson. The freshman had five points and seven rebounds at the break while Dickinson had eight points. Nino Jackson capitalized on a four-point play just before the break for a 41-29 lead.
Grand Canyon wouldn't go away, cutting the lead to 59-55 with 10 minutes to play.
Ireland, who was 14th in the NCAA last season in scoring at 20.2 ppg and has led the WCC in minutes the last two seasons at more than 35 a game, finished playing just 22 minutes, fewest since the fourth game of his career (19 minutes vs. Dowling on Nov. 20, 2010). His first field goal of the game with 9:43 to play in game gave LMU a 61-55 lead.
However, he would pick up his fourth foul with with 8:51 to play and would leave the game. Grand Canyon would cut the lead to a four and Levin appeared to make a clean play on a Grand Canyon drive to the basket. He was called for a flagrant and they would turn it into a four-point trip, taking a 66-65 lead with 4:06 to play.
Ireland would come into the game with four minutes to play and his jumper on the Lions' next possession gave the Lions a 67-66 lead with 3:32 to play. Grand Canyon's Demetrius Walker, who finished with 17 points, had back-to-back buckets to give GCU a 70-67 lead.
Ireland would another jumper and drew the foul. After the and-one, he made it 70-70.
Killian Larson would give the Lopers a 72-70 lead with his outback with 1:56 to play. Larson led the team with 18 points, all of them in the second half after attempting just one field goal in the first half. Ireland tied the game again just nine seconds later. With 1:22 to play, Kilian hit just one of two free throws for a 73-72 lead.
On the next possession, the Lions moved the ball and Ireland found Flint open in the corner for the 75-73 lead. Egbeyemi would deliver the defensive stop on the next GCU possession and the Lions would hit three of four free throws, two by Levin, to secure the win.
The Lions will continue play at the San Diego Classic, facing South Dakota State on Saturday at 3:30 pm.