LOS ANGELES -- The Loyola Marymount women's basketball team moved to 4-0 on the season after defeating the Arizona Wildcats (2-1) 84-70 in the team's home-opener at Gersten Pavilion on Tuesday night. The last time LMU was 4-0 to start a season was in 2003-04 when the team won its first eight contests.
"I'm so proud of our team tonight," LMU head coach Charity Elliott said. "We fought and clawed back and finished with such composure. Cierra Belvin's defense in the second half got us going and we got some good looks in transition. I'm very proud of this team and how they competed tonight."
The Wildcats started out in control on the night, beginning the game on a 7-0 run before senior Makenzie Cast poured in a triple at the 6:03 mark. Arizona then went on another run, scoring eight straight points to increase their lead to 15-3 with 4:26 to go in the first. The Wildcats outscored the Lions 6-2 to finish out the quarter and led by 14 points after one, 21-7. Arizona guard JaLea Bennett scored 12 of her team-high 19 points in the first.
LMU chipped away at the Arizona lead in the second as junior Cheyanne Wallace posted nine of her game-high 26 points in the period. Despite trailing by 14 entering the quarter, LMU ended the half on a strong note after back-to-back finishes in the post from sophomore Raychel Stanley. Gabby Green dished the assists on each of Stanley's finishes as the Lions cut the Wildcats' lead to eight at halftime, 35-27.
All momentum shifted to the Lions' favor in the second half as LMU opened the third quarter on a 17-0 run. The Lions took their first lead of the contest on a Bree Alford layup at 5:24 in the quarter and went on to push their lead to 44-35 on a Cast three-pointer with 1:54 left in the third. The Lions held the Wildcats scoreless until they were able to chip in two free throws with 1:31 remaining in the frame for their first points of the quarter.
LMU outscored Arizona 25-6 overall in the third, as Wallace poured in another 11 points and Green tallied five points, two assists, two rebounds and two steals in the period to give the Lions a 52-41 lead heading into the final frame.
Arizona fought back in the fourth but LMU was able to maintain its lead throughout. Green scored 12 of her 21 points in the quarter as she went 8-of-9 from the free-throw line to solidify the victory for the Lions. In addition to her 21 points, the 6-2 guard finished with eight assists, six boards and three steals.
On top of her game-high 26 points, Wallace pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. Alford tallied seven points and eight boards while Cast finished with nine points (3-for-4 from three-point range) and Andee Velasco added seven points, six assists and four rebounds.
The Lions out-rebounded the Wildcats 43-29 in the win. LMU also held commanding leads in points in the paint (36-16) and second-chance points (14-7).
LMU will host its annual Thanksgiving Classic on Friday, Nov. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 25. Along with the Lions, Eastern Michigan, Denver and Miami (Ohio) will all participate in the tournament. LMU will face off against Miami on Friday and Eastern Michigan on Saturday with both contests beginning at 3:30 p.m. Denver and Eastern Michigan will match up on Friday at 1 p.m. while Miami and Denver will play at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Season tickets for 2017-18 are still available. Click here to secure your seats and take in all of the action this season.
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