Nov. 30, 2002
Anchorage, AK - Loyola Marymount University fought back from a 12-point deficit late in the second to take a one-point lead on the University of Wyoming in the final day of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. The Cowboys, however, hit 10 of their tournament record 36 free throws down the stretch to earn a 72-65 win over the Lions on Saturday afternoon in Anchorage, AK.
Wyoming, who trailed just once at 2-0 to start the game, took their biggest lead of the game with 9:20 remaining when Omoniyi Makun hit a lay-up to put the Cowboys up 53-41. The resilient Lions, who have come-from-behind twice already this season, went on a 15-3 run over a five minute span to take a 57-56 lead with 4:15 remaining. Junior Keith Kincade hit two of his 12 second half points to give LMU the lead. He finished with a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds.
"The game was really ugly on both ends," said Head Coach Steve Aggers. "Both of us showed the effects of playing three games in a row and we couldn't get going. We couldn't get over the hump all night."
The Cowboys, who have won back-to-back Mountain West Conference titles and entered the weekend ranked 30th in the nation, called on Uche Nsonwu-Amandi down the stretch. The senior who had declared for the NBA draft but decided to stay at Wyoming, hit on a pair of three-point plays to build the Cowboys lead back to eight. Nsonwu-Amandi finished the game with 23 points and 18 rebounds, earning Carrs/Safeway Player of the Game honors.
"Uche was completely dominating and we couldn't do anything against him tonight," said Aggers. "He was a man-child. Their post players got us into foul trouble and took us out of our offensive execution."
Kincade would cut the lead to six on another lay-up and junior Jason Dickens hit a put-back to cut the lead to 65-61 with 40 seconds remaining. After Donta Richardson for Wyoming hit just one of two from the free throw line, freshman Brandon Worthy hit a lay-up to make the score 66-63 with 29 seconds remaining. LMU would get no closer as the Cowboys hit six straight free throws in the final 19 seconds.
"We really struggled from the field and went inside and played well," said Wyoming Head Coach Steve McClain. "LMU had some counters and really hurt us. I knew coming in that Steve (Aggers) has a really good young team and we would be pushed. The best thing for us was the glass."
Wyoming was 36-for-53 from the free throw line, setting the Great Alaska Shootout record from free throws made and was one short of the record of attempts made. The 36 made ties a record for an LMU opponent set by Gonzaga on Jan. 17, 1987.
The Lions defense kept the game close throughout, holding Wyoming to just 36.7 percent from the field and 0-for-5 from the three-point line. The Lions held the Cowboy's leading scorers of Richardson and Marcus Bailey to nine points under their average. Richardson, who averaged more than 20 per game, did not have a field goal, going 10-for-14 at the free throw line. Bailey had 11 points, going just 3-for-15 from the field.
LMU had four players in double figures. Including Kincade's 14, sophomore Charles Brown added 12 points, junior Sherman Gay also had 12 and freshman Brandon Worthy had 11.
"It was a rugged game and our zone defense was pretty good for us tonight," said Aggers. "We did a good job on Richardson. However, their front line guys were just to physical for us. This will help us become a better team." The inside play by the Cowboys made the difference, outrebounding the Lions 46-31.
"What hurt us tonight was the rebounding," said Aggers. "We have to do a better job on the glass. Give credit to Wyoming who completely dominated us under the basket."
The Lions will return to Southern California and will travel to UC Irvine on Wednesday, Dec. 4. LMU finishes a stretch of five games in eight days to start the season.
- GO LIONS -