LOS ANGELES – The Loyola Marymount women’s basketball team moved to 5-0 on the season after defeating the Miami University (OH) RedHawks (2-3) 84-71 in the team’s first matchup of the 2017 Thanksgiving Classic. Junior Cheyanne Wallace posted a career-high 30 points on 50.0 percent shooting (12-of-24) to go along with eight boards, three assists and two blocks.
The Lions trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half as Miami got off to a hot start from beyond the arc, hitting 8-of-11 threes (.727 percent) through the first two quarters. Lauren Dickerson netted 5-of-7 three-point attempts in the opening half, scoring 19 first-half points for the RedHawks to give Miami a 42-33 lead.
Miami carried over its hot shooting in the second half, as Leah Purvis knocked down two three-pointers in the opening three minutes of the third (9:40 and 7:58). LMU Freshman Chelsey Gipson came off the Lions bench to provide a huge spark after scoring the first points of her collegiate career on a triple in the first half. The 5-7 guard tallied four straight points for LMU in the third on two made free throws and a driving layup on the right side which cut the RedHawks’ lead to four, 51-47, at the 4:08 mark.
Freshman Jasmine Jones continued the spark provided by Gipson, snagging a steal and taking it coast-to-coast to finish off the glass and bring LMU within two, 51-49, with 2:55 to go in the third quarter. Purvis poured in 1-of-2 free throws to increase Miami’s lead to three, but Wallace finished a layup at the other end to bring LMU within one, 52-51, at the 1:29 mark.
LMU outscored the RedHawks 21-15 in the third, but Miami held on to its lead and remained ahead of the Lions 56-54 heading into the final quarter.
Wallace started off the fourth quarter with a three-point play, finishing off the glass while drawing a foul and netting her free throw to give the Lions their first lead of the game at 57-56. Savannah Kluesner finished 1-of-2 free throws for the RedHawks to tie it at 57-57, but Wallace once again drew contact at the other end and scored two more from the charity stripe as LMU regained the lead, 59-57. This began a 9-0 LMU run as Wallace and Jones each finished layups and senior Makenzie Cast sunk a triple to put the Lions up nine, 66-57 with 7:37 to go.
Wallace scored 19 of her career-high 30 points in the second half to lead LMU to victory.
“It felt great to get this win,” Wallace said. “Obviously we don’t want to be down, but this team shows so much comeback game and everyone continues to bring so much energy. It’s our home floor, so we don’t want to lose at home. I think it was just a test to us to show that when we’re down we can still come back, win the game, and play with fight.”
Gabby Green finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals for the Lions. Bree Alford and Raychel Stanley added eight post apiece, while Alford pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Gipson finished with seven points in the win.
Dickerson ended with 25 points while dishing out a game-high eight assists for the RedHawks.
“It took a little bit of everybody tonight,” Lions head coach Charity Elliott said. “From Chelsey Gipson coming in to Makenzie [Cast] coming in, Raychel Stanley had some huge minutes, and Cheyanne [Wallace]. You know, our core group is so strong. My wish is that we could start that way and be consistent for the whole 40 minutes but we are absolutely a work in progress and we still have a long way to go. The fight that we continue to show by getting down and coming back and just fighting, I’m really, really proud of that.”
LMU is 5-0 to start the 2017-18 season, marking the first time the team has won its first five games since 2003-04 when the Lions won their first eight contests.
“It’s like the best feeling ever,” Wallace said of the 5-0 start. “You almost don’t want to celebrate it because we have a whole season ahead of us but to be 5-0, it’s the best feeling. This team is so much fun to play with and so much fun to be around, so it’s not just any 5-0 start, it means a lot to be 5-0 with such a great team.”
LMU’s Thanksgiving Classic continues tomorrow as Miami (2-3) faces off against Denver (3-2) at 1 p.m. followed by the Lions against Eastern Michigan (2-3) at 3:30 p.m.
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