Lions Open WCC With Win
Men's basketball opens conference play with 87-76 win over BYU.
Dec. 28, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- West Coast Conference play opened the 2013-14 campaign with two of the more explosive offenses going toe-to-toe in the WCC Game of the Week. It was the Lions' defense that helped the Lions post an 87-76 win over BYU n Saturday afternoon at Gersten Pavilion. The Lions got a game-high 27 points from freshman Evan Payne and held the top scorer in the WCC to half his average.
Payne hit a career-best five three-pointers to post the fourth best scoring performance by a freshman in LMU history. He was joined by senior Anthony Ireland with 14 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Freshman Gabe Levin added 12 points and seven rebounds while sophomore C.J. Blackwell had 11.
The Lions (9-4, 1-0) held Tyler Haws, who entered averaging 23.2 per game to lead the WCC, to just 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting. The Cougars (8-6, 0-1) were led by Kyle Collinsworth with 18. LMU held BYU to 13 points below their league leading average of 89.2 as a team.
"I was very happy with defense, specifically in the first half," said Head Coach Max Good. "It really gave us a huge lift and set the tone. Once we did that, we got rolling on offense. I was very pleased with our effort from start to finish tonight. Our best 40 minutes all season."
In the early minutes, the Lions trailed 5-4 after an Eric Mika jumper. With 16:44 on the clock, Levin drained a three-pointer to start the Lions knock-out punch. The Lions posted a 17-2 run over the next four minutes to go up 14, 21-7 with 13:05 to play. LMU would never trail by less than 10 the rest of the way.
They would lead 48-33 at the break, and with the lead sitting at 12, 54-42, the Lions hit three straight three-pointers, two by Payne, to push the lead to 21, helping them improve to 4-0 at home this season.
"We forced the tempo in the first half and that got us a lot of confidence," said Good. "Evan really got going and we knew when we recruiting him he was capable of really taking over. For the most part, he stayed within his game and hit open shots. We did a good job of that tonight, moving the ball against the zone and hitting the shots they gave us. I was very happy with how we controlled the ball."
The Lions finished with a season-low seven turnovers while forcing BYU into 13.
BYU finished hitting 44.4 percent from the field compared to 42 percent for the Lions. However, LMU's defense held BYU to 3-for-10 from the three-point line, while the Lions went 8-for-17. The Lions entered the game last in the WCC averaging just four three pointers a game before hitting their season-high against the Cougars.
LMU continues its league-opening series when they host San Diego on Monday, Dec. 30 at 7 pm. Fans can take advantage of a special $5 ticket price by going to LMULions.com/Tickets and entering promo code WCCOPENER.