Jan. 19, 2013
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LOS ANGELES - The LMU women's basketball team has rarely struggled on its home court this season. But despite a rally to close out the first half, the Lions fell 63-59 to visiting Portland Saturday in West Coast Conference action.
The loss was just the third suffered by LMU (8-11, 2-4 WCC) in Gersten Pavilion in 10 games this season. Portland improved to 6-12 overall and 1-4 in WCC play, earning their first conference win and snapping a five-game losing streak.
Hazel Ramirez led LMU with 17 points, including 11 in the first half. The junior point guard also dished out four assists, surpassing the century mark (103) for the first time in her three-year career. Alex Cowling added 12 points and Mackenzie Kerins pulled down a game-high 10 boards.
Portland was led by Kari Luttinen's 12 points. Annika Holopainen and Jasmine Wooton chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Trailing 58-57 with just under two minutes remaining, Ramirez nailed a 15-foot jumper to put the Lions up one, 59-58, at the 1:41 mark. Wooton put the one-point lead back in the Pilots hands with a pair of free throws before Ramirez game the game its 11th tie by hitting one of two from the charity stripe.
snatched the offensive board on Ramirez's miss, but her fadeaway jumper with 11 seconds remaining rimmed short.
Portland's Alexis Byrd boarded the shot and sent a quick pass up court to Holopainen who converted the fastbreak layup with six seconds remaining to put the Pilots up two, 61-59.
Looking to go the length of the court, LMU's inbounds pass was picked off and the Lions were forced to foul. Jazmyn Johnson would knock down both free throws to seal the four-point victory for Portland.
After a game-opening three by Ramirez, the Lions turned the ball over four straight times, and in five of their first seven possessions.
Portland, meanwhile, started hot from the field, building a 13-point, 22-9 lead by the 8:49 mark.
Trailing 27-14 with 6:26 remaining in the first half, the Lions' offense finally came alive as a pair of Kerins free throws began a 14-0 run. Ramirez capped the streak with an NBA-range three with 15 seconds on the clock and the Pilots went 0-for-12 during the span as LMU took a 28-27 lead into the break.
Portland finally snapped its scoreless streak on the opening possession of the second half on a Kari Luttinen layup and the game stayed a back-and-forth battle until the final buzzer.
The Lions hit the road next week, beginning a three-game WCC road swing on Thursday, Jan. 24 at BYU. Tip off in Provo, Utah, is 6 p.m. (PT). Live audio will be available through the Lions Audio Network at LMULions.com.