Feb. 23, 2013
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MORAGA, Calif. - A stellar performance by freshman Deanna Johnson could not counter a short bench for LMU and a blistering hot Saint Mary's team from beyond the arc as the Lions fell 70-57 to the Gaels Saturday night at McKeon Pavilion.
Paced by five threes by Kate Gaze, the Gaels (18-8, 10-4 WCC) hit 11-of-21 from beyond the arc and turned a two-point halftime lead into the final 13-point spread.
Johnson hit 10-for-21 from the field, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, to more than double her previous career high of 11 and finish with 23 points to lead all scorers. The Lions (10-17, 4-10 WCC) also go 15 points from Alex Cowling, who is now just 20 points shy of the WCC all-time scoring record for 2,165.
Playing without the services of starting points guard Hazel Ramirez did not slow down the Lions in the first half as Johnson stepped up to score a team-leading 13 points, including nine from long range.
Ramirez was sidelined for the first time in her two-plus year career due to an ankle injury sustained on Thursday in the Lions' win at Pepperdine.
Johnson buried a pair of threes in the opening minutes, helping LMU jump out to a quick 8-3 lead. An 8-0 Gael run put the lead briefly in the hands of the home team, 11-8 at the 11:51 mark. The teams would trade buckets back and forth and three by Saint Mary's Kate Gaze knotted the score for the fourth time, 23-23 with just under five minutes remaining in the half.
With the Gaels holding a five-point lead, Dani LeNoir buried a three and, following a pair of Jackie Nared free throws, Johnson went coast-to-coast to sink a runner in the lane and make it a two-points game at the half, 34-32.
Saint Mary's would open the second half on a 14-6 run, and eventually lead by as many as 16 with 8:57 to play. Back-to-back buckets by Mackenzie Kerins cut the Lions' deficit to seven with just under two minutes to play, but the Gaels hit six straight free throws down the stretch.
Johnson and Cowling were the lone Lions in double figures, while Mackenzie Kerins came one rebound shy of her career high, finishing with a dozen.
The Gaels were led by Nared and Gaze who each had 19 points. Morgan Hattan chipped in 10. A trio of Gaels also reached double digit rebounds as Saint Mary's earned a 48-33 advantage on the boards.
The Lions return home for the final time this season on Thursday, Feb. 28, hosting BYU at 7 p.m. LMU seniors Alex Cowling and Dani LeNoir will be honored in a brief ceremony prior to tip off in Gersten Pavilion.