Grueling WCC Start Continues in Home Opener
LMU returns home for WCC opener, taking on Santa Clara Thursday.
Jan. 9, 2013
|GAME:||LMU (7-8, 0-2) vs. Santa Clara (12-4, 1-1)|
|DATE/TIME:||Jan. 10, 2013 // 7:00 p.m. (PST)|
|LOCATION:||Gersten Pavilion (4,152) // Los Angeles, CA|
|TV:||WCC Digital // LMULions.com|
|RADIO:||KXLU 88.9 FM (Jesse Kass)|
LMU Game Notes
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LOS ANGELES -- The grueling start to West Coast Conference play continues for LMU men's basketball but shifts home for the first time at Gersten Pavilion when the Lions host a pair of games on the week. It begins with Santa Clara on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. It is the Lions' third straight opponent with 12 wins on the season with their last three opponents combining to post 76.6 winning percentage. Follow the action live on LMULions.com and listen on KXLU 88.9 FM.
INSIDE THE GAME
LMU returns home to play the first WCC games of the season at Gersten Pavilion when they host Santa Clara on Thursday, Jan. 10, followed by Portland on Saturday, Jan. 12. Both games will feature the LionsFund Pregame Reception while Thursday's home conference opener is OISS Night at the Game. This will be the 138th meeting all-time between LMU and Santa Clara, with the Lions sweeping the series a year ago. The last meeting came on Feb. 25 when the Lions defeated the Broncos 68-65 at Gersten Pavilion, thanks in large part to a 31-for-35 effort (88.6 percent) from the free throw line (box scores on page 5). The Broncos have reversed their fortunes in 2012-13 and come into the game at 12-4 overall and 1-1 in WCC play. They have lost two of their last three, but it came at No. 1 Duke (Dec. 29) and in their last outing at home on Jan 5 against No. 10 Gonzaga (81-74). The Broncos are the third straight opponent (BYU 12-4, Saint Mary's 12-3) to feature 12 wins on the season. They are 25th in the nation in three-pointers per game, hitting 8.4 per game. Kevin Foster leads them with 19.7 ppg, hitting better than three three-pointers per game (49-for-145 on the season, 33.8 percent). His 3.06 per game is ranked 19th nationally. He is also ranked 9th national in steals at 2.88 per game.
INSIDE THE LIONS
The Lions are 7-8 on the season after falling to BYU and Saint Mary's on the road to open WCC play. The Lions improved to 4-2 at home after closing non-conference with wins over CSU Bakersfield and Morgan State. Junior Anthony Ireland finished non-conference play scoring 27 points against CSUB and MSU and continues to shine in his third season at LMU. He currently is second in the WCC in scoring at 20.1 ppg, which is ranked 17th (as of Jan. 6) in NCAA-I (national rankings on page 6). He also ranks 10th in the WCC in rebounds at 5.7 rpg, eighth with 4.1 apg, fifth in steals with 1.67 spg (earning four against Saint Mary's last Saturday) and second in minutes played at 36.q. In the win over Texas State, he scored his 1,000th career point and he is now 21st all-time with 1,190 points.
Senior Ashley Hamilton is having his best season as a Lion, scoring 20 points with seven rebounds against Morgan State and his season also includes a career-best 24 points against Northern Arizona. He is averaging 14.9 ppg and 7.1 rpg. He is 10th in the WCC in scoring and sixth in rebounds. He is also fourth in the WCC in offensive rebounds and eighth in defensive rebounds. He has 517 rebounds in his career, the 25th Lion to crack 500 rebounds for a career. He is ranked 22nd all-time at LMU.
Redshirt junior Alex Osborne has started the last six games at center in the place of Godwin Okonji, who had emergency Laparoscopic Appendectomy on the evening Dec. 12. Osborne has responded in a big way, averaging just under eight points and six rebounds in the four starts. He had nine points and a career-best 10 rebounds against Ole Miss and then followed that with 11 points and five rebounds at Saint Louis. Against Saint Mary's he led the Lions with eight rebounds while scoring 10 points with two blocks and two steals. He is 19th in the league in rebounding at 4.8 rpg, 15th in blocks with 0.6 bpg and 14th with 1.20 steals per contest.
Utah native Chase Flint has been making a huge impact in his first season for the Lions. The Eastern Utah transfer from Fruit Heights is doing a little of everything, ranking sixth in the WCC in minutes played at 32.6 mpg and seventh in assists with 4.29 apg, while averaging 6.6 points per game, fourth on the Lions' roster. He missed the game against Saint Mary's due to a right knee injury suffered against BYU. He has not practiced on the week and probably will not play on Thursday. His status will be evaluated on Wednesday. He is ranked second in the WCC with an assists to turnover ratio of 3.16, dishing out 60 assists with just 19 turnovers. That mark is ranked 17th in the NCAA. He leads the Lions in assists, going for six against CSUB Saturday. He also has 4.6 rebounds per game, going for a career-best 10 against Morgan State Thursday and seven to lead the Lions on Thursday against BYU.
In the seven wins for the LIons this season, they have showed strength on the glass. They closed non-conference with a +35 edge on the boards lin a pair of wins. They went +23 against against Morgan State (56-33) and +12 (33-21) over CSUB. Additionally, the Lions out rebounded Texas State 48-32 and Portland State 41-27. The Lions are second in the WCC with 38.6 rebounds per game. The Lions lead the league best 12.8 offensive rebounds per game. LMU grabbed a season-high 22 against Morgan St. In that win over the Bears, the Lions' three starting guards of Ireland (6 rebounds), Egbeyemi (10 rebounds) and Flint (10 rebounds) combined for 26 of the Lions 56 rebounds.
Junior Ayodeji Egbeyemi is off to his best season, sitting third on the team with 10.8 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game, ranking 20th and ninth in the WCC, respectively. He had his second career double-double on Nov. 29 with 16 points and 11 rebounds against LBSU. In the close of non-conference play, he scored 21 points and grabbed a team-best 19 rebounds (10.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg).
The Lions closed non-conference with their fourth game hitting 50 percent or better from the three-point line, hitting an efficient 6-for-12 from long range in the win over CSUB. The Lions shot a season-best 58.8 percent (10-for-17) in the first meeting against the Roadrunners. The other two were a 13-for-25 (52%) performance on Nov. 29 against LBSU and then upped that by one with a 14-for-25 (56%) effort agaisnt NAU. The Lions are ranked fourth in the league in three pointers made per game (6.7). Ashley Hamilton leads the team at 43.6 percent, which is ranked sixth in the WCC. Anthony Ireland is second on the team hitting 40.7 percent, which is ranked 11th in the WCC.
The 2012-13 season is a combination of experience and the unknown as the Lions returned eight letterwinners, including three starters, from last year's team that had the best season since the Elite Eight campaign at 21-13 overall and 11-5 (4th) in the WCC. With the experience, however, there is plenty of youth. The 15-man roster has just 15 years of NCAA Division-I basketball experience - one of the youngest rosters in the country.
Chase Flint missed the game against Saint Mary's due to a knee injury suffered against BYU, and he became the second Lions starter to miss games due to injury/illness. The Lions bench is already thin due to redshirts to sophomore C.J. Blackwell (will apply for a medical redshirt at the end of the year), transfer Ben Dickinson (due to NCAA transfer rules) and freshman Taj Adams (coaches' decision). That left just eight scholarship players available for the Lions against Saint Mary's last Saturday. Blackwell missed his fourth game of the season against Saint Louis due to the same knee issues that saw him miss the first three games of the season. With the issues remaining, he will miss the remainder of the season and Blackwell will look to appy for a medical redshirt at the end of the season. In addition, Godwin Okonji underwent an emergency Laparoscopic Appendectomy on the evening Dec. 12. Okonji was up and missed the Lions' games against Ole Miss and Saint Louis, but returned against Morgan State on Dec. 27, just 15 days after surgery. It has been a tough start to the season for Okonji, whose father passed away in Africa at the start of the season in November. Despite all that, he is averaging 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in just over 21.4 minutes of action per game this season.
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