Tourney Run, Records Highlight 2012-13
Men's basketball ended 2012-13 with a record run, jump starting them into the upcoming summer for 2013-14.
June 5, 2013
After struggling with near misses and heartache in the first two months of the 2013 calendar year, LMU men's basketball put together one of the more memorable stretches in the history of the West Coast Conference Basketball Championships, putting together its longest winning streak of the season to advance to their second semifinal in four years. The tournament run and the record numbers put up by junior guard Anthony Ireland highlighted the Lions 2012-13 campaign.
INSIDE THE LIONS
The Lions finished 11-23 overall, earning three straight wins at the WCC Championships to advance to the WCC Basketball Championship semifinals for the second time in four years. BYU excluded, only LMU, Gonzaga and Saint Mary's have gone to the quarterfinals and beyond in each of the last four WCC tournaments. Following the season, Head Coach Max Good is now fifth all-time in program history in wins (64), sixth in conference wins (23) and second in WCC tournament wins (6). Anthony Ireland finished second in the WCC and 14th nationally with 20.2 ppg. He finished with 688 points, seventh all-time at LMU and is just the 15th time someone has scored at least 600 points in a single season in LMU history. The 2012-13 season saw men's basketball claim the most WCC All-Academic Selections (Ashley Hamilton, Ayodeji Egbeyemi, Taylor Walker) in program history.
Ireland's first-team All-WCC selection makes him the first Lion to earn back-to-back first-team All-WCC honors since Matthew Knight did it in 2005-06 and 2006-07. He is the 14th player to go back-to-back and just the second junior to do it, joining Hank Gathers as the only Lion to do so. In addition to scoring, Ireland ranked in the top-20 in eight other statistical categories in the WCC, including rebounds (18th), assists (7th) and steals (7th).
MAKING A TOURNAMENT RUN
Since the WCC Basketball Championships began in 1987, the lowest seeded team in the tournament field (No. 8 through 2011, No. 9 starting in 2012) had advanced just four times. Make that five. LMU was the last team to do it in 2011 when they defeated Portland in the first round as the No. 8 seed. And now, the Lions are the first low-seed in the tournament to advance to the semifinals since they did it in 1997. LMU also did it in 1995. All three times they defeated Santa Clara to do, defeating top-seeded Santa Clara, 87-83 in 1995 and 70-61 in 1997, and then as the fourth seed this past season, 60-58. The other No. 8 seed advancing was Pepperdine in 1996, defeating No. 1 Santa Clara 63-60.
LMU is 6-4 in the WCC under Head Coach Max Good, advancing to at least the WCC quarterfinals in each of the last four seasons. Only Saint Mary's and Gonzaga have done that, reaching the WCC title game each of the last five seasons. Only Westhead has more WCC tournament wins (7) than Good, whose six wins are more than the 18 years prior to his arrival. As for Anthony Ireland, he finished averaging 17.5 points, 3.3 steals, 3.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds per contest, and hit the game winner against the Broncos with just over five seconds to play. In that win over the Broncos, Ireland set an LMU WCC tournament record with seven steals, breaking Tom Peabody's record of six set against USF on March 2, 1991. Ireland is the ninth Lion to earn All-Tournament honors. Ireland has played in seven WCC tournament games in his three-year career, giving him 153 points, ranked second all-time, 33 behind Gathers' record of 186. Ireland also has 17 steals in his WCC tournament career, setting the all-time record that was held by Gathers with 16. It wasn't the only mark on the record book the memorable run made for the Lions. Senior(Ashley Hamilton averaged nearly a double-double in the 2013 tournament at 12.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest. The four games gives Hamilton 10 tournament games, putting him in good company. Hamilton's 14 rebounds against San Francisco was tied for the 5th highest in tournament games for the Lions and he finished his career with 69 rebounds in the WCC tournament, second most in program history. He also finished with 128 points (ranking fourth all-time), 10 blocks (tied for 1st), 36 free throws made (2nd) and 57 free throw attempts (2nd).
Ireland has been Santa Clara's worst nightmare, going for more than 20 points in all three meetings against them this season, including his 23-point, seven-steal effort in the quarterfinals. He hit the go-ahead bucket on a lay-in with 5.8 seconds in the 60-58 win. He went for 23 against them on Feb. 28 and 29 in the win on Jan. 10. He is leading the team, like he did in the season, with 17 points, playing in 122 of the Lions' 125 minutes in the three games.
Senior(Ashley Hamilton led the Lions with 21 points and eight rebounds in the win over Portland, marking just the fifth time this season someone other the Ireland led the team in points. The Lions had a season high 14 steals, forcing Portland into 19 turnovers while only having 11 themselves. The 14 steals is the second most in program history at the WCC tournament, done three previous times, last coming in 1991 against USF. The steal total matches two other games (3/21/12 at Utah St.; 12/18/06 vs. Boise St.) as the most in a single game overall in more than nine years, getting 15 on Jan. 15, 2004 against San Diego.
In the 61-60 win over USF, it was defense that once again pushed the Lions to double the wins it had during all of conference heading into the tournament. The Lions had just nine turnovers but forced USF into 12, posting a 15-7 edge in points off turnovers. They also held USF to 38.9 percent shooting, including a 1-for-7 clip in overtime. Godwin Okonji, who lost his father and had an emergency Appendectomy earlier this season, had the best game of his career in with his first double-double (14 points with 10 reb).(Ashley Hamilton continued his hot postseason with his fourth double-double of the season and seventh of his career with 11 points and 14 rebounds. The rebound total is tied for 5th for most in the WCC tournament in LMU history.
The three-game winning streak put together in the WCC tournament has been about contribution throughout the line-up in Head Coach Max Good's rotation. In the quarterfinal win over Santa Clara, freshman Nick Stover went for 11 points off the bench on 5-for-8 shooting, his best night since the season opener on Nov. 9. Junior Alex Osborne matched a career-high with 11 rebounds and after not playing in the first two games, sophomore Bruce English came off the bench to play 15 minutes with two points and three rebounds with no turnovers. In the win over USF, the Lions had four players in double figures scoring for the first time since Jan. 24 against Pepperdine, including Taylor Walker's career-best 13 points and junior Godwin Okonji's first career double-double. It all started in the opening round win with Hamilton, who had his best shooting performance of the season at 8-for-12 in scoring his second highest point total of the season.
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