Hoops Gets Opening Sweep
Men's basketball starts 2-0 in WCC play with grind-it-out win over San Diego, 65-62.
Dec. 30, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- LMU men's basketball erased an early deficit, used a late 10-0 run to take the lead for good and survived a one-two punch by San Diego to earn a 65-62 win in West Coast Conference action on Monday night at Gersten Pavilion.
"We knew going in this was going to be a grind, a fight from start to finish," said Head Coach Max Good. "These are the ones you have to grind out. I don't enjoy it as it adds age to me, but that was a good win for us."
Freshman Evan Payne led four Lions in double figures with 16 points. Senior Anthony Ireland added 10 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. Freshman Gabe Levin went for 12 points and eight rebounds, including a monster putback dunk that gave the Lions a key four-point lead late. Senior Alex Osborne had 11 points and five rebounds.
LMU improves to 10-4 on the season, 2-0 in WCC play and 5-0 at home. The Lions are off to their best start since the 1995-96 season and are 2-0 in conference for the first time since 2005-06. The 5-0 start at home is the best since 1987-88.
The Lions survived a 28-point outburst from San Diego's Johnny Dee. He hit 11-for-17 from the field and 6-for-10 from three. Duda Sanadze was the only other Torero (9-6, 0-2) in double figures, hitting 7-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-6 from three for 18 points. The rest of the Toreros line-up went 6-for-23 from the field and 1-for-4 from three.
"They are quick and they have three water bugs that will give you fits. Johnny Dee is such a good shooter and is way better than alright. He is a terrific shooter," said Good. "We wanted to make sure to limit Dee and Sanadze's catches. They got into a good flow early, but we did better in the second half. We did enough to win. I was proud of how we fought through and earned the win."
Dee scored 10 of USD's first 13 points and the Toreros held an early 18-10 lead.
An 13-2 run by LMU over a span of 2:21 that included six straight points by Nick Stover and the last five points by Ireland gave the Lions a 23-20 lead. USD answered right back with an 8-0 run, taking a 32-28 lead at the break.
The game would feature nine lead changes and a pair of ties as LMU took their first lead of the second half on a Ben Dickinson jumper with 8:49 to play. The lead would change hands five times from that point, including a 53-51 lead for San Diego on Sanadze's three-point play with 7:37 to play. A free throw by USD made it 54-51 with 6:51 on the clock.
LMU appeared to take control, going on a 10-0 run over a span of 3:09 to take a 61-54 lead on Chase Flint's lay-in with 3:16 to play.
Dee had other ideas, scoring five straight points to make it 61-59 with 2:05 to play. On the next possession, Levin attacked the basket on an Ireland miss and slammed home the putback for a crucial 63-59 lead with 1:40 to play. The USD sharpshooter would hit his sixth three-pointer of the night with :44 left to make it 63-62.
On the next possession for the Lions, there was a loose ball that was batted around on the floor with Levin coming up with possession and earning the foul with 28 seconds left. He drained both free throws.
"That ball was getting batted around like a pinball machine," said Good. "Gabe did a good job of securing it and then delivered big free throws," said Good.
USD had a chance for the tie, but Dennis Kramer's three-pointer was off the mark and Osborne picked up the rebound. Dee would create a turnover on the outlet pass but the Toreros couldn't get the equalizer at the buzzer.
The Lions finished with just nine turnovers, two nights after having just seven in their opener. They forced USD into 14 and held a 19-9 edge in points off turnovers. USD finished hitting 10-for-21 from three (47.6 percent) and 46.2 percent from the floor. LMU was 46.3 percent from the field, 4-for-4 from three and 11-for-14 from the free throw line. USD went 4-for-7 from the charity stripe.
The Lions will play their next four conference games on the road, starting with a trip to the Bay Area to face San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2 at 7 pm, followed by Santa Clara on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 3 pm.