March 6, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Behind a 21-point, eight rebound effort fromsenior Ashley Hamilton, and support throughout the line-up, the LMU men'sbasketball team earned a 65-54 win over Portland in the opening game ofthe 2013 West Coast Conference Championship Wednesday night at theOrleans Arena.
The win snaps a 14-game skid for the Lions, and it came at the perfecttime for the Lions.
"We have been really struggling, but made tonight possible is that thisteam never gave up. I can honestly tell you that each and every day thisteam, every one of them, left everything on the floor. And when you dothat, and some point your hard work will pay off. It did tonight. I amvery happy for these guys."
With the win, the Lions (9-22) advance to Thursday's second round gameagainst the No. 5 seed San Francisco Dons, and avenge a pair ofregular-season losses to the Pilots (11-21). The WCC second round beginswith the Lions and Dons at 6 pm, followed by San Diego taking onPepperdine at 8:30 pm. Both games will be aired on BYUtv. The Lions gamewill be on KXLU 88.9 FM.
Anthony Ireland joined Hamilton in double-figures, finishing with 12points to go along with four assists and three steals. Alex Osborne andTaylor Walker chipped in eight apiece, while Nick Stover had seven, allin the first half.
"Everyone left everything out on the floor tonight," said Good. "Each guyplayed their role very well and it got us this win."
LMU shot 46 percent from the field for the game and 43 percent frombeyond the arc. It was their defense, however, that led the way, as theyturned a season-high 14 steals into 22 points-off-turnovers.
Portland trimmed an 11-point LMU lead to just five with 2:44 to play, butwould then commit four turnovers down the stretch, including three ontheir final three possessions.
"Portland really lit us up in the regular season and we really challengedour guys defensively," said Good. "They really responded and I thought wedid a great job."
Hamilton, who finished 8-for-12 from the field, keyed the Lions to startboth halves strong, scoring five of LMU's first seven points to open thegame and their first seven to start the second half. He hit a three onthe Lions' first possession and LMU stayed hot, hitting seven of theirfirst nine attempts to hold a 14-9 advantage at the 14:16 mark.
Back-to-back buckets by Portland's Thomas van der Mars first knotted thegame at 21 apiece, then gave the Pilots their first lead of the night,24-23, with 5:36 to play in the first half.
Trailing by one with 4:20 on the clock, a tip in by Stover sparked an 8-3LMU run to close out the half. Hamilton threw down back-to-back dunks andGodwin Okonji added a pair of free throws as the Lions took a 34-30 leadinto the break.
Portland cut the Lions' lead to one early in the second half, but aseries of mini runs kept the Lions in control. A Walker three with 11:06to play opened up a nine-point advantage before his jumper with justunder seven minutes remaining gave LMU it's first double-digit lead ofthe game.
Kevin Bailey had 21 points and Ryan Nicholas finished with 18 for thePilots. After hitting 60 percent (15-of-25) from three in the twoprevious meetings with the Lions this season, Portland managed just4-of-16 from beyond the arc Wednesday.