Dec. 22, 2001
Los Angeles, Calif. (December 22) -- The Loyola Marymount University (LMU) men's basketball team built a 15-point second half lead against the USC Trojans, who advanced to the Elite Eight a year ago, but could not hold on down the stretch as the Trojans earned the victory 81-67 at Gersten Pavilion in front of 3,158 Saturday night.
The first basket of the season by junior Miroslav Neskovic with 15:52 remaining in the game put the Lions (6-5) up 49-34. However, the Trojans (8-2) would score 15 consecutive points to tie the game at 49. LMU's Eurskine Robinson would hit a three-pointer at 10:43 to give the Lions a 52-49 lead, their last of the game.
A lay-up by senior Sam Clancy, who had a game-high 19 points and 14 rebounds, and free throws by Errick Craven and Desmon Farmer would put the Trojans up for good, 54-52 with 9:03 remaining.
"I was proud of the way our team played in the first half," said Head Coach Steve Aggers, whose Lions led 39-30 at halftime. "However, I was disappointed with the way we handled their defensive pressure and turned the ball over in the second half. USC's defensive tempo took us out of our offensive execution."
Turnovers were again a second half trouble spot for the Lions, who committed 16 in the second half in the loss to UNLV in which they had a 16-point lead. Against the Trojans the Lions committed 15 second half turnovers to finish with 22 for the game.
"Turnovers were the difference in tonight's game," said Aggers. "You cannot turn the ball over 22 times and expect to win. Give credit to USC. They are very quick and athletic. But if we are going to win in conference, we have to learn to handle that pressure."
For the first time all season the Lions failed to have three players in double figures, as Greg Lakey had a solid game against his former teammates, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Lakey played two seasons at USC before transferring in 1999-00. Senior Robert Davis would finish with 11. Kent Dennis and Keith Kincade finished one short of double digits with nine each.
The Trojans finished with five players in double figures. Joining Clancy was Farmer with 15, David Bluthenthal with 13, Craven with 12 and Robert Hutchinson with 10.
"We did a good job on Clancy in the first half," said Aggers, whose defense held Clancy to four first half points. "However, he is an All-American and showed why in the second half. Their wings did a great job in pushing the ball and opening it up to get the ball inside."
The Lions will not play again until Sunday, Dec. 30 when they travel to Montana to take on the Grizzlies at 1:05 p.m. (PST).