PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Loyola Marymount women's basketball team (12-7, 4-4 WCC) defeated the Portland Pilots (4-15, 0-8 WCC) 63-60 in a thrilling matchup that went down to the wire in Portland on Saturday afternoon. Portland led by as many as 10 points mid-way through the third quarter, but the Lions never gave up, battling through the end to earn the victory.
"Just a gritty, tough comeback win today," LMU head coach Charity Elliott said. "I think Portland played so hard. Down the stretch I felt like we did a great job of executing, taking care of the ball and making some really good decisions. Obviously Makenzie Cast had the big three, but if Raychel doesn't make the good decision, we don't get that shot. We knocked down our free throws, Bree (Alford) had two huge free throws. Just a really, really good team win. We used a lot of people and I really thought that it was our bench that sparked us. Then our players who finished really closed it out. I'm really proud."
The Lions had a strong first quarter, taking an eight-point lead at 16-8 after going on an 8-0 run midway through the frame. The Pilots battled back to cut LMU's lead to two, 19-17, heading into the second quarter. Raychel Stanley tallied six points on 3-of-4 shooting in five minutes in the opening frame, while WCC steals leader Gabby Green snagged four steals in the first.
LMU held its lead until the 3:10 mark of the second quarter when the Pilots tied it up 27-27 on a Julie Spencer jumper. Keala Quinlan then knocked down 1-of-2 free throws for the Pilots to give Portland its first lead (28-27) since the 8:58 mark in the first quarter. The Portland lead was extended to six after Darian Slaga netted a triple and Lisa-Marie Kaempf finished two free throws to make it 33-27.
Chelsey Gipson jumped snapped a 10-0 Portland run to make it 33-29 as the first half concluded.
Stanley tipped off the second half with a layup off the feed from Bree Alford to cut LMU's deficit to two, 33-31. The Pilots continued their strong play, extending their lead to as many as 10 points in the period, but Cheyanne Wallace came alive in the frame to keep LMU in the game. She scored on three consecutive LMU possessions between the 4:15 and 2:56 marks of the quarter, cutting Portland's lead to six, 47-41. The Lions finished the third quarter trailing 49-42.
LMU came out fighting in the fourth, starting seven points down but battling back to tie it up at the 4:49 mark on a Green lay-in off the feed from Stanley. The Lions went on a 7-0 run from the 6:59 mark to 4:13 to make it even. Andee Velasco gave LMU its first lead since the 4:47 mark of the second quarter, pouring in two free throws with 2:02 remaining and putting the Lions on top 58-56.
Kaempf finished a layup at the other end to tie it up once again at 58-58, and then Kate Andersen drained two free throws to put Portland back on top with 29.2 seconds left.
Senior Makenzie Cast came up clutch on the next play, nailing a huge three to give LMU the lead once again, 61-60, with 23.2 to go. The Lions followed up with strong defense as Alford forced a missed Portland jumper and hauled down a key rebound, drawing the contact and then knocking down two free throws to give LMU a three-point lead (63-60), with 12 seconds left, which would remain the lead throughout.
After only attempting two free throws (2-of-2) in the first half, LMU shot 16-for-22 in the second half. The Lions have struggled from the free-throw line on the season, and showed significant improvement in today's win.
Wallace secured a team-high 15 points with six boards while Stanley tallied 11 points, while Cast posted nine points and Alford added six points with a team-high nine boards. Green stuffed the stat sheet once again, finishing with six points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks.
LMU dominated in the paint on the day, outscoring Portland 32-18. The Lions also racked up 26 bench points to the Pilots' 12.
Following today's victory, LMU returns home to take on rival Pepperdine at on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m.
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