March 7, 2013
LAS VEGAS - It wouldn't be an LMU-San Francisco match-up without the drama. This 13th meeting between the two teams since Max Good and Rex Walters took over their respective programs went down to the wire, and then some, yet again.
Knotted at 56 apiece at the end of regulation, LMU's Anthony Ireland scored the first four points of overtime, Taylor Walker added a free throw, USF went 1-for-7 from the field and the ninth-seeded Lions clinched a 61-60 victory over the fifth-seeded Dons Thursday in the second round of the 2013 West Coast Conference Championship at Orleans Arena on Thursday.
"As I said last night, our struggles this season has had nothing to do with effort, pride or hard work. They bring it every day," said Head Coach Max Good. "We just couldn't get some breaks during some of those heartbreakers, but this team just refuses to give-up. Tonight was one heck of a battle and I am so proud of how hard we fought."
Under the current tournament format, LMU (10-22) becomes the first nine seed to advance to the quarterfinals. The Lions will face fourth-seed Santa Clara Friday at 6 p.m. live on ESPNU. The game will also air on KXLU 88.9 FM.
Ireland led four Lions in double figures with 16 points. Godwin Okonji collected his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, including six offensive boards that led the Lions to a 16-5 second-chance point advantage. Ashley Hamilton added an 11-point, 14-rebound double-double, his fourth of the season and Walker chipped in 13 points.USF's Cole Dickerson led all scorers with 23 points to go along with 18 rebounds. Mark Tollefsen added 12 points, but no other Don reached double figures on the night.
"Every time we play these guys, everything is left on the court by both teams. It is always down to the wire and is what college basketball is about," said Good. "Like we have all season, we fought through tough situations and got a big overtime win to advance. We are not done yet, and that is all that matters."
In a gritty battle with five ties and five lead changes, LMU held the game's largest advantage, 44-36, at the 11:28 mark of the second half. But it wouldn't last long.
Coming out of the under-12 media timeout, Dickerson made good on a layup and he and Adams hit back-to-back threes, knotting the score at 44 apiece.
LMU scored the next four points and would push its lead back to five, 56-51, on a pair of Walker free throws. But again the Dons responded in the form of a Dickerson three with 34 seconds remaining, trimming the Lion lead to two.
A Cody Doolin steal on the ensuing LMU possession sent the Dons on a breakaway and Dickerson tipped in a missed layup by Tim Derksen, sending the game into overtime.
In extra time, Ireland's jumper at the 3:31 mark gave LMU a 58-56 lead and would become the eventual game-winner. The junior guard then sank a pair of free throws, pushing the spread to four with 15 seconds remaining.
The Lions shot 38 percent from the field while the Dons hit at a 39 percent clip. Both teams struggled from the line as the Lions hit 10-of-15 (67 percent) while USF was just 8-for-19 (42 percent). The Dons opened the game 0-for-9 from the stripe until Tollefsen knocked down a pair at the 7:02 mark of the second half.