Feb. 14, 2012
LMU's stretch of four games in nine days continues on Wednesday, Feb. 15, when the Lions play their final regular season road game at Saint Mary's. It will be LMU's 10th game of the season against a current top-50 RPI team and the fifth of the season against a ranked opponent as the Gaels enter 16th in USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll and 21st by the Associated Press. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m., and will be televised live on Comcast Bay Area and tape delayed on Fox Sports PrimeTicket at 10 p.m. Fans can listen live on KXLU 88.9 FM and through LMULions.com.
INSIDE THE LIONS
LMU sits at 9-4 in the WCC, 16-10 overall, after splitting the Pacific Northwest trip last week. The Lions won their fourth straight conference game on Thrusday, 76-62, over Portland then fell at Gonzaga, 78-59, Saturday. The nine conference wins is the most since the 1990-91 season when the Lions won their last nine WCC games. In addition, the win over Portland was their sixth straight road win, matching the `90-'91 team for the most consecutive road wins (overall), four shy of the 1987-88 program record of 10 straight road wins. The six straight WCC road wins was the most since that 87-88 team went a perfect 14-0 in WCC play.
LMU enters Thursday's game ranked 17th in the NCAA Division I National Rankings in three-point field goal defense, holding opponents to a league low 29.2 percent from long range overall and 27.2 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 lead the WCC in free throw percentage, hitting 73.3 percent after going 21-for-25 (84 percent) against San Francisco, 14-for-15 in the second half alone. The Lions' top-six scorers hit better than 73 percent, including LaRon Armstead's 85.5 percent, which leads the WCC. As of games on Feb. 12, Armstead ranks 42nd in the NCAA Division I National Rankings. He went six-for-six, all in the final minute of the Lions win over Pepperdine. Anthony Ireland is 11th in the WCC at 76.9 percent. The Lions are ranked 45th out of 338 teams in NCAA Division I.
The Lions put their best road record since 1989-90 to the test with its toughest road swing of the season as they finish a three-game road swing at No. 16 Saint Mary's. The Lions' eight road wins is the most since 11 in the 1989-90 season when the Lions advanced to the Elite Eight.
The Lions had five players score in double figures, all within six points of each other, in the 14-point win at Portland Thursday, including a 10-point, nine-rebound effort from sophomore Godwin Okonji. Then in the setback against Gonzaga, the Lions top-two scorers in Drew Viney and Anthony Ireland went for 47 of the Lions' 59 points. The fifth-year senior Viney leads the Lions with 16.3 points per contest in 16 games after his 24 against the Zags. Ireland, who had his ninth 20-point game with 23 on Saturday, is second on the team with 15.4 points per games while ranking third in the WCC. Ashley Hamilton returned to the line-up against San Diego on Jan. 7, and in 14 games, he is averaging 10.4 points. Junior Jarred DuBois, who has missed five games this season, is averaging 10.4 points.
More numbers: The Lions' 60-point second half in the comeback win over San Francisco on Feb. 4 was the most points in a single half since they scored 69 in the second half against USC on Nov. 30, 1993. The Lions hit 11 three-pointers in that win, and with another 10 against Portland Thursday, they have hit double-digit three-pointers six times this season, ranking fifth in the WCC with 6.7 three-pointers. The Lions fell to 8-2 on the season when they hit at least seven, going for that number against Gonzaga Saturday. Heading into the season, the last time they hit 10 or more three-pointers in a game was 10 against USF on Jan. 14, 2010. The 11 made is the most since hitting 12 against Mercer on Nov. 24, 2007.... The Lions are 12-1 when leading at the half (7-1 in WCC), 11-1 (6-0) when outrebounding their opponent, 16-3 (9-1) when shooting better than 40 percent, 8-1 (4-0) when holding their opponent to less than 40 percent, and 12-0 (6-0) 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 131st meeting between Saint Mary's and LMU and the second since Saint Mary's pulled out a 71-64 defensive win at Gersten Pavilion on Jan. 26. The tough road tests continue as the Lions will look for their first win over the Gaels since the semifinals of the 2006 WCC championships (11 games) and the first in Moraga since a sweep in the 2004 season (seven games). Moraga has been a tough place to play since Randy Bennett took over, as the Gaels are 16-0 at home this season. In the first meeting, LMU couldn't overcome a midgame lapse, and 20th-ranked Saint Mary's capitalized on a huge rebounding advantage for a 71-64 win. Drew Viney led LMU with 18 points. Anthony Ireland added 15 and Ashley Hamilton had 14. Stephen Holt led all scorers with 19 points as the Gaels (20-2, 9-0) had four players in double figures, including a double-double from Rob Jones. He finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Saint Mary's finished the game with a 39-24 edge in rebounds and had a 15-5 edge in second chance points.The Lions led by as many as seven, 25-18 on an Ashley Hamilton jumper, in the first half. However, the Gaels would push away with a 25-4 run over a span of just under 10 minutes. The Lions would cut it to as low as seven 49-43 on another Viney three-pointer with 12 minutes to play. The Lions could never get over the hump as the Gales finished the game shooting 49 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three. LMU finished 41 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from three.
AT THE POINT
Sophomore Anthony Ireland started the season scoring 22 or more points in four of five games, and with his 23 points at Gonzaga, he now has nine games with 20 or more on the season and 11 in his young career. He is one of two Lions to play every game this season (Ayodeji Egbeyemi is the other) and he is second in the WCC in minutes played at 36.2 per game. He enters the week ranked third in the WCC in scoring at 15.4 points per game. He was named WCC Player of the Week on Jan. 24 after his 27-point effort in the win over BYU. He is third in the WCC with 4.7 assists per game and became just the second Lion since 1998 to earn a double-double with points and assists when he did it against Vanguard (14 pts, 10 assists). He had 21 assists in the final two non-conference games, going for a career-high 11 against Morgan State on Dec. 21. According to records, its is the most in back-to-back games since Terrell Lowery in 1990. He now has 217 career assists to rank 18th all-time at LMU. He also has 41 steals on the season (1.6 spg), to rank sixth in the WCC.
LaRon Armstead continues to show why he is the Lions' senior leader, and on Thrusday he became the 30th player in LMU history to appear in 100 games in his career, and played his 101st on Saturday. Fellow senior Tim Diederichs became the 31st to hit a 100 in the game against Gonzaga. Armstead came off the bench to score 22 points against then #23 Saint Louis, becoming a mainstay in the Lions' rotation since. He went for double figures in six of seven games before the Morgan State game, and has returned to that form in the WCC, going for 14 in the win over Pepperdine. Against the Waves he hit a big three-pointer for a 57-51 lead late, and then after the Waves cut the lead to five, he grabbed three straight defensive rebounds. He is fifth on the team with 8.7 points per game while adding 2.8 rebounds, and 16 steals. In addition to his free throws, he has hit 27 three-pointers, tied for third on the squad.
Redshirt senior Drew Viney entered 2011-12 needing just a single point to become the 31st player in LMU history to reach 1,000 career points. After having to miss the first six games due to a stress fracture in his foot, it took exactly 12 seconds in his first game back against Columbia to hit the century mark. Viney knocked down a 12-foot jumper to become the 31st player in school history to reach a 1,000 points. After missing three more games due to soreness in the foot, he returned to the line-up against Vanguard, scoring 29 points with eight rebounds. He had his 11th career double-double in the win over Pepperdine, which ranks tied for 12th at LMU. He enters Wednesday's game averaging 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds with 15 blocks, 15 steals and 24 assists in 16 games. He is second on the team with 28 three-pointers (ranking third in WCC games hitting 46.7 percent). His career numbers are starting to add up. Here is where he ranks in the LMU career record books as of Feb. 13: 17th with 1,259 points 15th with 16.8 ppg 22nd with 436 made field goals 25th with 941 field goal attempts 9th with 129 three-pointers made 11th with 309 three-pointer attempts 3rd with a 41.7 three-point field goal percentage 22nd with 258 free throws made 30th with 324 free throws attemted 19th with a 79.6 free throw percentage 25th with 489 rebounds 5th with 79 blocks. He needs 11 more rebounds to become the 13th LMU player with 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.
- GO LIONS -