Dec. 3, 2003
Los Angeles, CA (Dec. 3) - Senior Sherman Gay scored 24 points to lead Loyola Marymount University men's basketball to a 68-67 win over Cal Poly in a non-conference match-up at Gersten Pavilion on Wednesday night. With the win, the Lions improve to 5-0 on the season for the first time since the 1952-53 campaign.
"All that matters is that we are 5-0," said Head Coach Steve Aggers, as he has led the Lions to its best start in 51 years. "We once again won with our defense. We are finding ways to win. Tonight we were not sharp offensively but we got it done. I am proud of our mental toughness."
The Lions trailed at the half for the first time all season, but used a 7-2 run to start the second half to take a 46-41 lead on a lay-up by senior Keith Kincade, who finished with 15 points on the night. Sophomore Chris Ayer added 13 points with eight rebounds for the Lions.
LMU built the lead to eight, including a 65-57 edge with 8:20 remaining thanks to a jumper by senior Jason Dickens. However, Cal Poly (2-2) used an 8-0 run and held the Lions without a field goal for more than six minutes to tie the game at 65-65 with 2:19 remaining on a hook shot by Varnie Dennis. The senior led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Shane Schilling added 13 points and nine rebounds for Cal Poly.
"Dennis is very tough to guard," said Aggers. "We struggled to stop him in the first half but did a much better job defensively in the second half." The Lions held the Mustangs to 33 percent from the field in the second half and held them to 41 percent for the game.
With the game tied, Gay would break free for a dunk on a fast break to give LMU a 67-65 lead with 2:02 remaining. Schilling would have a chance to tie the game again, but missed both foul shots. With 22 seconds remaining, Wes Wardrop gave the Lions a three-point lead by hitting one of two free throws.
"I felt we showed great toughness mentally down the stretch and it was the difference," said Aggers. The Lions held Cal Poly, who averaged 25 three-pointers a game, to just 2-for-13 from long range. LMU was just 1-for-3 and finished hitting 41.9 percent from the field.
Kameron Gray would hit two free throws with 11 seconds remaining to put the Mustangs within one, 68-67. Gay would then miss a front end of a one-and-one to give Cal Poly one last shot. Dennis would have his shot blocked by Gay at the buzzer.
The Lions will host UNLV on Saturday, Dec. 6 at Gersten Pavilion. Game time is 7:05 p.m. and can be heard live on the Lions' Audio Network through KXLU 88.9 FM and www.LMULions.com. Saturday's game will be homecoming for the Lions.
- GO LIONS -