March 7, 2010
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The No. 5 seeded Loyola Marymount Lions earned their second win in as many nights, knocking off No. 4 seeded San Francisco to advance to Sunday's semifinals of the Zappos.com WCC Basketball Championships at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, while No. 3 Portland downed No. 6 San Diego and will take on No. 2 seeded Saint Mary's in the second semifinal.
The Lions will face top seeded Gonzaga in the first semifinal at 5:30 PM, while the Pilots will take on the Gaels in the second semifinal at 7:30 PM. Both games will be televised on ESPN2.
No. 5 LOYOLA MARYMOUNT - 84
No. 4 SAN FRANCISCO - 76
LMU Head Coach Max Good looked at his young, but ever-maturing team, and told them that they were right where they wanted to be - in a one-point game with San Francisco late in the second half - and to reach down a grind it out and enjoy every second of it as it is right where good teams want to be.
Reach down they did, and in the process showing that a year after just three wins they have turned into a pretty good team. The Lions overcame a second-half deficit to knock off the Dons , 84-76, in a thrilling quarterfinal of the Zappos.com West Coast Conference Men's Basketball Championships on Saturday night at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
LMU improves to 18-14 on the season, equaling the 1995-96 squad for the most wins since the 1989-90 Lions posted a 26-6 record. With the win, the Lions advance to the semifinals of the WCC tournament for the first time since 2006 and just the third time since, you guessed it, 20 years ago. Awaiting the Lions is top-seed Gonzaga in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN2.
"We feel very fortunate to win again tonight and feel fortunate to have an opportunity to play against Gonzaga again," said Good. "Now, I hope tomorrow night I'm still appreciating that opportunity because we all know how good they are."
LMU was led by their first-team All-WCC tandem of Drew Viney and Vernon Teel as they each scored 18 points. Viney added eight rebounds, two assists, a block and two steals, while Teel added seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Ashley Hamilton continues his solid play in the tournament with 14 points and five rebounds. Jarred DuBois gave LMU with four players in double figures, adding 11. Kwame Vaughn led USF with 20 points, going 11-for-13 from the free throw line. Dior Lowhorn had 18 points and nine rebounds, but just five points and two boards came in the second half.
"First to come into this position was kind of the whole goal for me transferring here," said Viney. "I knew these guys (Hamilton and Teel) were coming with me and we couldn't have made it this far without these guys. So were 18-14 right now and made a big turnaround from last year. Last time we played Gonzaga we were able to knock them off, we played really well and we give them an awkward mismatch. So hopefully going into tomorrow, we will have a well rounded focus and be able to try and knock them off tomorrow again."
It was a classic from the start as the game featured eight lead changes and eight ties, including a 38-38 tie at the break.
The Dons would come out of the break and take their largest lead of the game at 50-44 when Rashad Green hit a jumper in the paint at the 15:31 mark.
Less than a minute later DuBois would cut the lead in half with a three-pointer, making it 50-47. Viney would put in a lay-up with 13:23 to play, cutting the lead to 50-49. Larry Davis then completed a 7-0 run to give the Lions a 51-50 lead.
It was short lived as Vaughn drained a three-pointer on the next possession to give the Dons the lead right back at 53-51.
LMU answered with yet another run, this one going 8-0 in less than three minutes, capped by a pair of Teel free throws that gave the Lions a 59-53 lead with 9:51 to play. The run gave the Lions the lead for good, but it was tested.
"I told them when we got ahead in the second half, this is what you want, the opportunity to compete and come back in this game," said Good. "Anyone can play when they are up thirty or down thirty. This will test your manhood a little bit. To see how we are going to reach down and grind."
Reach down they did.
The Dons cut it to one, 61-60, on a Blake Wallace three pointer with 7:29 to play. However, LMU rattled off five straight - a three-pointer by Viney and a jumper by Davis - to put the lead back to six, 66-60 with 6:18 to play.
USF knocked the lead down to one yet again, this time at 68-67 on another three-pointer, this one by Dontae Bryant with 3:06 to play.
But as they did all night, the ever-maturing Lions answered again, scoring another five straight to put the lead at 73-67 on an Ashley Hamilton lay-in with 1:51 to play. Then Teel put the finishing touches, hitting a three-pointer with just one second on the shot clock to push the lead to seven, 77-70, with 59 seconds to play.
LMU then went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final minute.
And by reaching down, the Lions reach the WCC semifinals. The game can also be heard on KXLU 88.9 FM and LMULions.com.
No. 3 PORTLAND - 72
No. 6 SAN DIEGO - 57
T.J. Campbell scored 15 points and dished out eight assists as the No. 3 seeded Portland Pilots defeated the No. 6 seeded San Diego Toreros 72-57 in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball Championship on Saturday at the Orleans Arena. Portland advances and will face second-seeded Saint Mary's on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Portland (21-9) tied a single-season record for wins at the Division I level with the victory on Saturday, matching the 1994-95 squad.
Jared Stohl added 13 points for the Pilots, while Robin Smeulders and Ethan Niedermeyer added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
San Diego (11-21) was led by freshman guard Ken Rancifer with a career-high 20 points, but no other Torero reached double figures in the game.
The Pilots raced to a 37-28 halftime lead as Campbell paced the Pilots with nine points and five assists.
The Pilots would push the lead to 13 points on numerous occasions throughout the second half, but San Diego always fought back to keep the deficit within reach until the final two minutes. The Pilots shot 49.0 percent from the field for the game and committed just seven turnovers. Portland held the Toreros to 41.9 percent from the field and forced 11 turnovers which led to a 21-5 advantage in points off of turnovers.
Portland also gained a 31-27 rebounding edge, had a 30-18 margin in points in the paint and 9-3 advantage in second chance points.
The semifinals matchup with Saint Mary's is a rematch of last year's semifinal which the Gaels won 71-61. The teams split the regular season series this year with each team winning on their home court. Saint Mary's took a 77-72 decision in Moraga, while the Pilots won 80-75 in overtime in Portland.
The other semifinal matchup features top-seeded Gonzaga and No. 5 Loyola Marymount, who defeated No. 4 San Francisco in the early game on Saturday. The Gonzaga-LMU game tips at 5:30 p.m. and the Pilots-Gaels will follow. Both contests will be televised live nationally on ESPN2. The WCC Championship game will be Monday at 6 p.m. on ESPN.