LOS ANGELES – The Loyola Marymount women’s basketball team (9-3, 1-0 WCC) opened West Coast Conference play with a 69-57 win over the Saint Mary’s Gaels (7-5, 0-1 WCC) at Gersten Pavilion on Thursday night. Junior Gabby Green led all scorers with 18 points while also snagging a career-high seven steals and tallying three blocks.
“Every single game in this conference is a difficult one,” LMU head coach Charity Elliott said. “It was great to start off at home with a win against Saint Mary’s, who is so good every year. They do such a good job of battling and fighting, and we knew it was going to be that way. I’m just really proud that we came out tonight and we played together. We made some really good decisions, hit some good baskets and really focused on our team defense. This was a big win for us.”
The Gaels edged the Lions 19-18 in the first quarter, but LMU outscored SMC 18-10 in the second frame and maintained the lead for the remainder of the contest. Junior Cheyanne Wallace posted 10 first-half points as senior Makenzie Cast went 3-for-5 from three through the first two quarters to add nine points, giving the Lions a 36-29 lead at the half.
SMC put on the pressure in the third but the Lions managed to maintain their lead and went on to outscore the Gaels 33-28 in the second half to secure the victory. Green racked up 14 of her game-high 18 points in the second half, including eight in the final quarter.
Four Lions finished with double-figure scoring as Wallace (16 points, 6 rebounds), Cast (12 points) and Andee Velasco (10 points, 8 assists) each scored 10+ points. Bree Alford pulled down a game-high nine boards to go along with six points and two blocks.
Joy Akaegbu-Cleveland and Megan McKay led SMC in scoring with 12 points apiece.
The Lions forced 24 SMC turnovers and finished with 15 steals on the night. LMU also held SMC to just 15.8 percent shooting from three-point range (3-for-19) in the win.
LMU follows up tonight’s win with another home game vs. the Pacific Tigers on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m.
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