Road Swing Moves to Moraga
LMU heads to Moraga to face hot-shooting Gaels on Saturday.
Jan. 24, 2014
MORAGA, Calif. -- LMU's two-game road swing through the Bay Area continues when they head to Moraga, Calif., to face Saint Mary's on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 3 pm. The Lions are coming off a 60-point second half in the 92-81 win over Pacific on Thursday, while the Gaels improved to 12-1 at home with an 80-74 win over Pepperdine. Game time is set for 3 pm and the game can be seen on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Comcast SportsNet California and TheW.tv.
INSIDE THE LIONS
The Lions continue their stretch of seven out of nine games on the road, concluding their second Bay Area trip of the season when they face Saint Mary's in Moraga, Calif., on Saturday. The Lions snapped a six-game skid with a 92-81 win over Pacific in Stockton on Thursday. The Lions picked up their first road win of conference on a night when the other three home teams in the WCC earned the victory, all by a slim margin of just four points. In the win, the Lions had a season-best 60-point second half, had its best scoring total in conference play since 2006 (at San Diego, 2/6/06 - W, 94-76), hit a season-best seven three-pointers on 14 attempts, the fifth fewest in 21 games. They hit a season-best 31-for-37 from the free throw line (83.8 percent), turned the ball over a season-low six times, had a pair of 20-point scorers (Payne 25; Ireland 24) for the third time on the season and had a pair of players claim five blocks (Levin, Mornar) on their way to a total of 11 blocks, the equaling the most (11 vs. Sacramento St., 12/7/10) since the program-record of 13 in 1998 (vs. CS Fullerton, 12/2/98).
Senior Anthony Ireland continues to pace the Lions in all areas of the floor, putting the final marks on his record-setting career. He has not missed a game in his career, playing in his school record 121st Thursday while earning his 114th start, also a record. He had his 39th 20-point game with his 24 against Pacific, adding his third 30-point game with 34 points against Santa Clara on Jan. 4. On Thursday he added another impressive line to his season and career totals, going for the 24 points on 7-for-13 shooting, hitting 9-for-9 from the free throw line. He added eight assists, five rebounds and five steals with just a single turnover. He is second in the league at 18.7 ppg (61st nationally as of Jan. 23), tops in assists at 5.7 (31st nationally) and second in steals at 1.86 (77th). With 392 points (ranked 18th in the NCAA as of Jan. 23), 119 assists (ranked 14th) and 39 steals (ranked 43th) in 2013-14, Ireland surpasses Jeff Fryer for sixth all-time in LMU history with 1,980 points. He also moved to fourth with 503 career assists and with the five steals, he moved to third all-time with 186 career steals. With the nine assists, he joins Terrell Lowery as the only player in LMU history with at least 1,500 points, 500 assists and 150 steals in his career. There are only three active players in the NCAA that have those numbers (Kendall Williams - New Mexico; Chaz Williams - UMass; Shabazz Napier - UConn). None of them, including Lowery, have 500 career rebounds. Ireland is at 482 heading into Saturday against the Gaels.
The Lions enter the week second behind Pacific in the WCC and 8th in the NCAA (as of Jan. 23) hitting 76.2 percent on the season from the free throw line. They raised their season number by nearly a percent after the season-high 31-for-37 effort on Thursday (the most since going 32-for-40 against CS Fullerton in the CIT on Mar. 14, 2012). Free throws played a key role in six of the last eight games as Santa Clara went 24-for-27 (88.9 percent), hitting 22 of 23 in the second half and overtime. San Diego hit 20 of 22 free throws in the second half to overcome a halftime deficit and finished 23-for-29 (79.3%) for the game. And in the final game of the road swing, BYU went 30-for-38 (78.9%), hitting 19-for-25 in the second half. In the first four games away from Gersten, opponents went 94-for-122 (77.0%) from the charity stripe, while LMU was 54-for-74 (73.0 percent). It was a drastic difference in the Lions' last five wins, went 105-for-127 (82.6 percent) while opponents were 62-for-83 (74.6 percent).
The Lions have had more turnovers than their opponents just three times in 21 games this season, giving it away just seven times to open WCC play against the Cougars and then a season-low six in the win over Pacific on Jan. 23 (the fewest since five against Portland Jan. 12, 2013). While taking care of the ball on Thursday, the Lions' rarely-used zone had 11 blocks, forced 11 Pacific turnovers on eight steals that led to an 18-6 edge in points off turnovers. The Lions are averaging just 12.14 turnovers per game this season while leading the league in steals at 7.38 per game. LMU ranks second in the WCC in turnover margin at +1.67. The Lions have averaged under 13 turnovers a game just twice in program history. They averaged just 12.97 in 2009-10 and set the record in 1983-84 at 11.98 per game.
Freshman Evan Payne led the Lions with 25 points on Thursday, second only to his 27 points against BYU in the first meeting. The 27 points is tied for the fourth best by a freshman in LMU History and his 25 is tied for eighth. The BYU game was the first of conference, making the point total the most ever by an LMU freshman in his first WCC game and the third-most by an LMU player in his conference debut. Payne now has 312 points on the season and is ranked ninth all-time for freshman scoring in a season. His 14.9 ppg is ranked 10th in the WCC.
Freshman Gabe Levin went for his freshman record fifth double-double on Thursday with 12 points and 10 rebounds, his first since his 14 points and 14 rebounds at Pittsburgh. He is one of just five freshman to have multiple double-doubles in their debut season. He has grabbed 14 rebounds in a single game three times already this season. Heading into the game with Saint Mary's, Levin has 143 rebounds and is ranked seventh all-time for a freshman. In addition, he added five blocks against the Tigers, giving 21 on the year. He is ranked 8th in rebounding at 7.6 rpg and 6th in blocks at 1.1 bpg.
While Ireland has been a mainstay in the Lions' line-up the last four seasons, playing short-handed is nothing new for the Lions in the six seasons under Head Coach Max Good. Junior Chase Flint, who had played in 42 games as a Lion with 24 starts, suffered a broken elbow against Portland on Thursday and will be out the rest of the season. He is the third former starter and fourth major contributor to be lost for the season in 2013-14. In addition, sophomore transfer Ben Dickinson missed the game on Saturday against Gonzaga and remains out indefinitely due to personal reasons. Combined with freshman Patson Siame's year of residency, the Lions will play this weekend with just seven scholarship players. Entering Thursday's game, key players have missed 55 games this season due to injury, including Flint's two games, Godwin Okonji (leg suffered in car accident prior to practice on Oct. 20, see LMULions.com for more) for the entire season (21 games), senior Ayodeji Egbeyemi (hip) the last 13 games, and freshman Nino Jackson (ankle) the last 17 games, all of whom the Lions will look at applying for a medical redshirt following the season. Freshman Gabe Levin also missed two games with a shoulder injury. The Lions have had seven starting line-ups this year, second only to Good's first season in 2008-09 for fewest line-ups. A year ago the Lions had 10 different starting line-ups as key players missed 30 games. In 2011-12 when they won 21 games, the Lions featured 11 starting line-ups but had key players miss just 25 games, the fewest in Good's tenure. In 2010-11 they had 15 line-ups with players missing 63 games. In 2009-10 in which the Lions had 18 wins, they had 10 line-ups with the second fewest missed games, 26. And in his first season, the Lions were down to six scholarship players at one point and key players missed 68 games.
The Lions have had double-digit offensive rebounds in 16 of the 21 games on the season, including 18 against Portland and 15 against Gonzaga. Senior Alex Osborne had 12 of his 21 rebounds on the offensive side on the week. The Lions moved back to No. 1 in the WCC with 13.5 per game. They went for 13 offensive boards in outrebounding Santa Clara 41-36. The Lions had a season-high 20 offensive rebounds good for 23 second chance points in the win over UC Riverside. They equalled that total with 20 against La Sierra, going for a season-high 25 second chance points. Against Long Beach State the Lions had 19 offensive boards and held a 45-30 edge on the glass. They used five of their 19 offensive rebounds in the final minute to get the win at LBSU. Freshman Gabe Levin is eighth overall in rebounding at 7.4 and Osborne is 18th at 5.5 rpg. Levin is fourth in the WCC with 2.7 offensive rebounds per game while Osborne is 15th at 2.1.
Speaking of Osborne, he has been a force on the glass of late as he wraps up a blue-collar type career. He played in his 114th game against Pacific, tying Chris Ayer for seventh all-time. He is on pace to finish second all-time behind teammate Anthony Ireland for games played in a career. And as his career wraps-up, he has been leading the Lions on the glass since WCC play began. In the last 10 games he is averaging 8.0 rebounds per contest (80 total), including the Lions' first 15-15 games since 2009. Osborne, who is fourth in WCC games at 7.0 rpg and 18th overall at 5.4 rpg overall, scored 20 points with 17 rebounds, eight of which were offensive, in the win over La Sierra. It was the first 15-15 game by a Lion since Dec. 28, 2009. He went 8-for-10 from the field, had two assists, two steals and a block in the win. Osborne is also ranked 11th in the WCC with 1.14 spg. His 103 career steals is ranked 23rd all-time in LMU history.
A Grand Finale: Senior Anthony Ireland enters his final season all over the record books at LMU with the projection to do even more. He enters the season as a Preseason All-WCC selection and is:
2014 Senior CLASS Award Candidate
Watch-list for the Bob Cousy Award
Preseason Lou Henson Award All-American
WCC Best Player Selection (sbnation and College Hoops Journal)
One of nation's most unknow top players (CBS)
LMU Magazine: "Ice Man"
College Hoops Daily