Jan. 22, 2011
LOS ANGELES - LMU overcame a nine-point deficit with five minutes to go to make it a one-point game but Pepperdine sank nine three-pointers to hold on for a 66-61 victory in a West Coast Conference game Saturday afternoon at Gersten Pavilion. Junior Candice Nichols led all scorers with 19 points and freshman Camille Buckley posted her third consecutive double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Lions (9-10, 3-2 WCC) closed out a three-game home stand.
The contest had shades of LMU's last game, a six-point loss last Saturday to Gonzaga in which the Lions trailed by 13 at the half before rallying to make it a one-possession game, only to come up short. This time, the Lions fought back from an 11-point deficit at the break and cut it to one in the final minute as Nichols scored the team's final nine points. Solid free throw shooting from the Waves (12-7, 3-2 WCC), who hit 9-of-10 at the line in the final 2:12, was enough to hold off the Lions.
Nichols did her part in the comeback, scoring 16 of her 19 in the second half, including LMU's final nine points to spur the rally. She added four rebounds and four steals. Buckley continued her WCC resurgence with 12 points and 11 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double and fourth of the season, going 4-for-9 from the floor and 4-for-5 at the line before fouling out with 1:58 to go. After topping 20 points in five of her last six games, senior Renahy Young looked to be on her way with 14 first half points but was held scoreless in the second half, although she did add five rebounds, three assists, and a pair of steals. Sophomore Courtney Collishaw chipped in an excellent effort of nine points and three assists off the bench.
Three-point shooting proved the difference in the game. LMU, which had entered the contest with a WCC-high 7.5 threes made per conference game, were just 3-for-17 (17.6%) while the Waves, who top the WCC overall with 7.4 makes per game sank 9-of-20 (45%). LMU shot 45% in the second half to finish at 36.1% (22-for-61) overall and went 14-for-20 (70%) at the line. The Lions dominated points-in-the-paint, 30-10 and had 12 offesnve rebounds that led to a 15-8 advantage in second-chance points while forcing 19 Wave turnovers.
Katie Menton led the Waves with 16 points and Lauren Bell added 14 on a near-perfect 4-for-5 from the floor, 3-for-3 from three, and 3-for-3 at the line. Jazmine Jackson and Kelsey Patrick each contributed nine points. Pepperdine shot 42.3% (22-for-52) overall and 72.2% (13-for-18) at the line.
It was Menton vs. Young in the early going as both players connected for eight points as Pepperdine jumped out to a 15-12 lead. Menton was hot, going into double digits with her third three of the half, which was followed by a three-point play from Bell that gave the visitors a nine-point lead, 21-12 with 10:28 left.
Following Menton's lead, Pepperdine was knocking down nearly 50% of its shot as they grew the advantage to 28-17. Free throws kept the Lions in the hunt, however, and LMU was shooting the bonus with 8:18 left in the first, clawing back to 28-22 on Young's sixth and seventh foul shots. But Pepperdine answered with a three from Bell and a three-point play from T'Keyah Shealy to take its largest lead to that point, 34-22.
Three-point shooting set the tone for the contest. Pepperdine was 7-for-11 from distance, a 64% clip, while LMU was just 2-for-11 (18%). Young's 14 first-half points were offset by a combined 23 from Menton and Bell to take the Waves into the break with a 37-26 lead.
As had been the case last week against Gonzaga, LMU made adjustments at the half and immediately turned up the pressure. Trailing 43-30, after a Shay Cooney-Williams three, LMU rolled off a 14-4 run over the next 6:38 to pull back to 47-44 with 12:11 to go. Getting the ball inside was key to the run as eight of the points came in the paint, including six from Buckley. Two jumpers from Cooney-Williams halted LMU's run and the margin buoyed between five and seven over the next seven minutes.
There was still time for an LMU comeback, though, and, with Pepperdine out of timeouts, the trap forced a steal that Nichols took the distance for a layup with 1:06 left. Following an LMU timeout, the Lions forced another turnover, which led to Nichols penetrating and banking in a right-handed shot in the lane to make it 61-59. Again LMU trapped and nearly got a steal but Shealy was fouled, making one of two for a three-point margin with 46 seconds left. Nichols was not about to give the ball up, taking it to the hoop and splitting a pair of defenders to lay it in with 42 seconds left to make it a one-point game, 62-61.
However, free throws became the storyline down the stretch. LMU went 1-for-3, including missing the front-end of a one-and-one in the final 2:19 while the Waves closed it out with nine of ten. After Nichols' layup cut it to one, Jackson was fouled and made both and Young lost it at the other end, although LMU stole it back, only for a foul to be called, sending Patrick to the line. She made both to restore the two-possession game and Ramirez could not get a three to go down as Pepperdine ran out the clock.
LMU closes out the first half of WCC play on the road next week, visiting San Francisco on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Santa Clara on Saturday at 2 p.m.
- GO LIONS -