Feb. 3, 2012
LMU and San Francisco have put together a string of games that have left fans covering their eyes with their hands as the last three meetings have been decided by a total of four points. The two will complete their regular season rivalry on Saturday, Feb. 4 in a key showdown in the race within the West Coast Conference. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. It can be heard on KXLU 88.9 FM and will be broadcast on Lions' All-Access through LMULions.com.
INSIDE THE LIONS
The Lions earned a series sweep over Pepperdine with a 67-57 win on Thursday night. The Lions improve to 7-3 in the West Coast Conference, the best start to league play since beginning 8-2 in the 2005-06 season. The Lions are tied for third in the WCC with BYU, sitting a game behind Gonzaga for second, and improved to 14-9 overall.
LMU enters Saturday's game ranked 11th in the NCAA Division I National Rankings in three-point field goal defense, holding opponents to a league low 28.1 percent from long range overall and 23.9 percent in WCC games. The Lions have held 13 teams under 30 percent for the game, including BYU's 2-for-25 (8 percent), Pepperdine's 2-for-15 effort on Thursday (13.3 percent) as well as Gonzaga and Portland to 15.4 percent (2-for-13). In non-conference they held UCLA to 13.3 percent and North Texas' to 15.8 percent.
The Lions are second in the WCC in free throw percentage, hitting 73.0 percent (trailing Portland, who is at 73.1 percent). The Lions' top-six scorers hit better than 73 percent, including LaRon Armstead's league leading 89.1 percent. As of games on Feb. 2, Armstead ranks 17th in the NCAA Division I National Rankings. He went six-for-six, all in the final minute of the Lions win over Pepperdine, going 57-for-64 on the season. Anthony Ireland is tied for 14th in the WCC at 76.3 percent. In the Lions two wins at BYU and at Santa Clara, free throws came in big as they hit 15-for-16 in the final minute of play (7-for-8 at BYU; 8-for-8 at SCU). The Lions are ranked 55th out of 338 teams in NCAA Division I.
After missing three games due to a concussion, junior Jarred DuBois returned to the line-up last week and continues to shine off the bench. After going for a season-high 18 points in the win over Portland, including his three-pointer with 17 seconds left for the game winner, he and senior LaRon Armstead led the Lions with 14 points. DuBois is one of four Lions in double figures on the season with 10.8 points per game. Drew Viney returned to the line-up on Dec. 27 against Vanguard and had his 11th career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the first win over the Waves. He has played 13 games on the season and is averaging 15.4 points per contest. Sophomore Anthony Ireland is second on the team with 15.1 points per games while ranking fourth in the WCC. Ashley Hamilton returned to the line-up against San Diego on Jan. 7, and in 11 games, he is averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, averaging 6.6 boards per game in WCC play after going for a season-high nine against the Waves.
The Lions are now 7-2 on the road this season, winning five in a row all in WCC play and have matched the 1990-91 team for the most road wins since the Paul Westhead era. The Lions have won their first five road games in conference play for the first time since the Lions went 14-0 in league play in the 1987-88 season.
More numbers: The Lions are 11-1 when leading at the half (6-1 in WCC), 10-1 (5-0) when outrebounding their opponent, 14-3 (7-1) when shooting better than 40 percent, 8-1 (4-0) when holding their opponent to less than 40 percent, and 10-0 (4-0) when scoring 70 or more points.
The Lions have played in three overtime games in a season for the first time since 2007-08, winning all three. It is the first time in program history the Lions have won three overtime games in a single season.
This will be the 142nd meeting between San Francisco and LMU and in the last seven years the series as produced its share of drama, including the last three contests decided by a total of four points. In the first meeting of the season, sophomore Anthony Ireland hit a floating runner with 1.6 seconds left in overtime to lift the Lions to a 77-76 win in San Francisco on Dec. 31. This coming after Michael Williams drilled a three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation as USF erased a 20-point deficit to send it to an extra frame. It continues a string of thrilling games, including Williams hitting a three at LMU on Jan. 27, 2011 in Los Angeles for a 61-60 win and then in San Francisco on Feb. 26, Cody Doolin hit a three-pointer with 49 seconds left to give USF a 74-73 lead. Ireland had two shots bounce off the rim with five seconds left that would have tied it as the Lions fell 77-75. Since 2006, in 13 meetings (not including LMU's 2008-09 rebuilding season), the teams have played three overtime games with the average margin of victory sitting at six points (7.8 points including 2008-09).
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