Second-Seed Gaels Prevail Over Lions

March 4, 2016

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LAS VEGAS - The LMU women's basketball season came to a close in the West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals Friday afternoon at the Orleans Arena as the seventh-seeded Lions fell, 85-71, to second-seed Saint Mary's.

LMU closes out the 2015-16 campaign with an 11-20 overall record, including a 6-12 WCC mark that put them in a regular-season tie for seventh place. The Gaels advance to the tournament semifinals to face sixth-seed San Francisco.

Leslie Lopez-Wood led the Lions with 18 points, including a final jumper with 22 seconds remaining that pushed the junior guard over the 1,000 career-point mark. She became the third Lion this season (along with seniors Deanna Johnson and Sophie Taylor) to join the 1000-point club, marking just the second time in program history three teammates achieved the feat in the same season. That one previous time came in 1991.

Freshman Cheyenne Wallace added 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench, closing out a stellar rookie season with her 15th double-digit performance. Seniors Sophie Taylor and Deanna Johnson concluded their collegiate careers scoring nine and seven points, respectively.

Saint Mary's was paced by Lauren Nicholson's game-high 24 points. Devon Galland added 16 points and Stella Beck hauled in a game-high 11 boards.

LMU came out of the gates strong for the second straight game and a jumper by Johnson gave the Lions an early 8-2 edge with 7:20 on the clock. Trading buckets throughout the first quarter, a Wallace jumper made it 15-10 LMU with 4:21 to go.

But Saint Mary's slowly began to find its stride as four points by Sydney Raggio and a Hannah Kaser three gave the Gaels' their first lead of the game, 17-15. A Wallace layup would tie the score, but Saint Mary's pushed into the lead again and took a 23-20 lead into the quarter break.

Following a cold second quarter for both teams, the Gaels came out of the halftime break heated up, hitting four of their first five shots on their way to shooting better than 70 percent in the frame to open up a 15-point, 64-49 lead to start the fourth quarter.

LMU had one final charge in the fourth as a lineup of four freshmen - Andee Velasco, Marcella Hughes, Bianca Velasco and Wallace - and sophomore Bree Alford battled their way to within seven, 70-63, with 4:06 to go. But the Gaels were deft from the line down the stretch, hitting 10-of-10 in the final 2:29 to keep the Lions at bay.

While LMU was able to take advantage of 20 points off of 19 Saint Mary's turnovers, the Gaels took advantage of a 54-28 rebounding edge, including 17 offensive boards they turned into 15 second-chance points.

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