LOS ANGELES - It was Steven Haney's three-pointer that sent the game into overtime, but key stops and big shots down the stretch allowed the Lions to be in that position in the final seconds of regulation. LMU (2-1) earned its second home win of the week, topping McNeese State University (1-3), 92-86, in overtime.
"We pressured the ball more, we played up the court, we pressed, we dug, we just fought to get to overtime." said Head Coach Mike Dunlap. "Fortunately for us it took literally until the last seconds to do that. Unbelievable confidence builder for our team early in our season and good for our fans to see what kind of comeback we have in us."
Haney who had been 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-6 from long range to start the game, pulled up and nailed the knock-down three to tie the game with 19 seconds on the clock erasing a 13-point deficit that existed less than 10 minutes prior. Haney turned around and opened the overtime session with LMU's first bucket, another made three. The senior finished with 16 points and moves into a tie for ninth all-time in program history (Ross Richardson, '90-94) with 138 made threes.
"He's just getting his timing back after coming off some major knee injury," said Dunlap. "For him to come back off a couple games and do what he did in the clutch is who he is. Our other players who can see how to do that. We have some young guys who can follow his lead."
For the third time this season, LMU has had four different double-figure scorers and at least eight players with a made field goal. By halftime on Sunday, nine different Lions found the basket, with ten scoring when all was said and done.
The Lions jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead on a James Batemon and-one at the basket followed by a three from Erik Johansson in his first start of the season. McNeese answered with 10 of the next 12 points to take their first lead, before Mikail Simmons used an offensive rebound and put back to tie things at 10-all.
The Cowboys seemingly could not miss in the first half, shooting 8-for-13 (61.5 percent) from three before intermission. Converserly, LMU's first half numbers from long range were 2-for-nine (22.2 percent).
The second half numbers were flipped. McNeese was just 1-for-10 from three in the second half and 1-for-4 in the overtime session. While LMU's answer wasn't in the team three-point shooting, the Lions pounded the paint, outscoring the Cowboys 46-27 inside. LMU forced 19 turnovers for the second straight game and benefitted from bench production, topping McNeese 52-12 in that category.]
Cameron Allen led the Lions with 19 points, while Batemon, the other LMU point guard, had himself a 15 point and seven assist game.
"Both guys are heavy-handed penetrators and they put a lot of pressure on the defense," said Dunlap of his point guards.
Eli Scott followed his 21-point career high on Wednesday with his first career double-double on Sunday. Scott was pivotal in keeping the Lions around in the first half with nine of his 14 points coming before intermission. His 11 rebounds give Scott the team's first double-double of the season.
LMU will now pair of pair of road games over the Thanksgiving holiday week. The Lions will be in San Antonio on Wednesday to face an Incarnate Word team that was the last ones to take LMU to overtime. The Lions topped UIW in Gersten Pavilion, 91-90, in overtime on Dec. 17, 2016.
The Lions then fly to Boise State to play the Broncos on Saturday on the Mountain West Network.
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