Roadrunners Next on Long Road Swing
Men's basketball continues 20-day road swing with CSU Bakersfield on Saturday.
Nov. 16, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- After opening the 2012-13 season at home, the LMU men's basketball team (1-1) continues their 20-day road swing when they head to CSU Bakersfield (0-3) on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. It will be a match-up of teams with similar backgrounds coming into the game, as both advanced to the postseason a year ago and then look to six newcomers heading into the young 2012-13 season. Follow the game live on KXLU 88.9 FM and thorugh LMULions.com.
INSIDE THE GAME
The meeting between LMU and CSU Bakersfield will be the ninth all-time in the series' history. The Lions have won the last three, including an 81-73 win in Bakersfield on Jan. 3, 2010 in their last meeting. The win was part of a six-game winning streak that pushed the Lions to the postseason for the first time since 1989-90. Ashley Hamilton had a then-career best 19 points and the Lions' defense held CSUB to 32.3 percent shooting in the game. The series began in 1974 when the Lions defeated the Roadrunners 91-72 in the old Alumni Gym. The Lions own a 7-1 record in the series, falling 98-64 on Jan. 7, 2008. The other game in Bakersfield was a 75-71 win for the Lions in 1977. This will be the first of two meetings between the two this season.
INSIDE THE LIONS
The Lions played the entire active roster in scoring 108 points, the most since the Lions scored 116 at Nevada on Nov. 29, 1991. It is the the largest margin of victory in program history. The Lions finished the game with 31 assists and 61 rebounds, the most since the respective records were set (40 assists on Jan. 5, 1991; 82 rebounds on Jan. 7, 1989 - both against USIU). After scoring 55 first half points, the Lions scored 25 points in the first five minutes of the second half to blow the game open. Six players scored in double figures, including a career-best 20 by junior Ayodeji Egbeyemi. In addition, they had the first double-double by a freshman in their first game as Marin Mornar had 13 points and 11 rebounds. The 11 boards was also the best by a freshman in their debut.
In a 180-degree flip from the opener, the Lions fell at SMU 73-58 in the first road game of the season. The Lions shot just 32.6 percent with 47 of the 58 points coming from returners Anthony Ireland, Ayodeji Egbeyemi and Ashley Hamilton. Ireland had his fourth double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
LMU returns eight letterwinners, including three starters, from the 2011-12 season that finished 21-13 overall and 11-5 (4th) in the WCC. Many of the Lions' marks last season trace back to the 1989-90 Elite Team, including its first 20-win season, the most conference wins, first postseason win, first team to earn consecutive postseason wins, most home wins (12), and best road record (9-4). In addition, the 21 wins is the fourth most in school history and the Lions' 11 conference wins is tied with the 1967-68 team for the third most.
It will be a combination of experience and the unknown as the Lions will enter the season with a 15-man roster that has just 15 years of NCAA Division-I basketball experience - one of the youngest rosters in the country.
The experience: LMU returns starters Anthony Ireland (18.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 6.0 apg), who was named Preseason All-WCC after earning First-Team All-Conference a year ago, Ashley Hamilton (13.5 ppg, 8.0 apg, 1.5 spg), a fifth-year senior who averaged over 11 points and 5.6 rebounds a year ago, and Godwin Okonji (5.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg), who has led the team in blocks the last two years. They enter the third game of the season having played 215 combined games and have combined to make 184 starts. In addition, junior Ayodeji Egbeyemi (17.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.5 spg) and redshirt junior Alex Osborne (5.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg) combine for 119 games of experience.
The youth: The rest of the Lions' scholarship roster is underclassmen. Sophomores Bruce English (missed first two games with ankle injury) and CJ Blackwell (out 2 to 3 weeks with knee injury) had solid first seasons, with English earning the start in the exhibition game on Oct. 30 while Blackwell showed flashes of offensive fireworks a year ago but remains out three to four weeks due to a foot injury. The rest of the active roster are newcomers, with transfer Chase Flint (7.0 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.0 rpg), and freshmen Taj Adams (did not play against SMU), Marin Mornar (10.0 mpg in two games), Nick Stover (8.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 22.5 mpg) and Adam Drexler (7.0 mpg in two games)
LMU finished the 2011-12 season ranked 20th in the NCAA Division I National Rankings in three-point field goal defense and 39th in free throw percentage. The Lions held opponents to a league low 30.2 percent from long range overall in 2011-12, and through two games are holding teams to 28.1 percent. The Lions led the WCC in free throw percentage at 73.8 percent a year ago, and hit 72.4 percent against SMU last Sunday.
The Lions finished with 12 victories at Gersten Pavilion a year ago, the second most (1986, 1990, 1996) since the building opened in 1981-82. The 14-0 record at home in 1987-88 is the most in school history. In addition, the 49,597 combined attendance last season was the most in school history.
The win at Saint Mary's in the final road game of the season improved the Lions to 7-1 on the road in WCC play and a final 9-4 record away from home. It's the best conference road record since going 6-1 in that 1989-90 season, and the seven wins matches the road win total of the 1987-88 team, who went 14-0 in league play. In addition, the 9-4 overall road record is the best road record since winning 11 games in that Elite Eight season. Included in this season's road record was a six-game winning streak to start WCC road play, matching the 1990-91 team for the most consecutive road wins (overall).
The Lions played four overtime games in a season for the first time since 1994-95, winning all four. It is the first time in program history the Lions have won four overtime games in a single season.