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Team Effort Lifts Lions

Jan. 19, 2008

Box Score

Los Angeles, CA - Mikaela Cowles of Saint Mary's missed two free throws with 0.1 seconds left as LMU survived for a 73-71 West Coast Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Gersten Pavilion. Freshman Renahy Young led three Lions in double figures as LMU (10-9, 2-2 WCC) snaps a two-game home and overall losing streak while handing the Gaels (9-10, 1-2 WCC) its second straight defeat.

A tight contest throughout came down to the absolute end as Saint Mary's rallied from a five-point deficit with 2:06 left. The Lions had opportunities to ice the game from the free throw line, just as the Gaels had their chances with possessions down the stretch. LMU shot just 8-for-21 from the line in the second half but it was enough to hold off the Gaels.

Two free throws by Jontelle Smith with 53 seconds on the clock made it a two-point LMU lead, 71-69. After Young made one of two free throws, Serena Benavente was fouled and hit both to bring SMC within one with 29 ticks left. The Gaels pressed the Lions, forcing senior Amanda DeCoud into a turnover to get the ball back with a chance to win. SMC went inside to Louella Tomlinson, who traveled as she laid the ball in, wiping off the go-ahead basket and giving the ball back to LMU. Senior Bronwyn Evans was fouled on the ensuing inbound, making one of two. Lauren Shaughnessy grabbed the rebound and went the length of the floor, pulling up for a three-pointer looking for the win. Her shot was off target but Cowles grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled by DeCoud she tried to go back up. With 0.1 showing on the clock, Cowles' first free throw hit every part of the rim but did not go down, essentially ending the game. Needing to intentionally miss the second, her foul shot missed the rim for a violation, giving the ball back to the Lions, who inbounded for the victory.

Young remains outstanding in conference play, leading the Lions for the fourth straight game with 17 points. DeCoud added 15 points, a career-high nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals, while sophomore Lisa Helmers poured in 10 points, all in the first half. Two days after lacking for points off the bench, the Lions got a solid team effort, with Bronwyn Evans, senior Valerie Ogoke, and redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans all contributing eight points. Aleyse Evans and Ogoke each barely missed double-doubles, grabbing 15 and 12 rebounds, respectively. Making her first start in over a month, Evans' tally was a new career-high, as were her four blocked shots.

Tomlinson just missed a triple-double with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and nine blocked shots but committed seven turnovers, including the crucial one in the final minute. Shaughnessy had a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds while Smitth added 15 points and Sierra Chambers 13 and five assists.

Neither team shot particularly well, with the Lions at 32.5% (26-for-80) overall and the Gaels at 31.2% (24-for-77). The teams were relatively even from three-point range with LMU at 33.3% (8-for-24) and SMC at 31.6% (6-for-19). The up-tempo game and missed shots led to a plethora of rebounds, with SMC holding a 65-59 advantage and the teams combining for 46 offensive boards. LMU also forced 19 Gael turnovers while committing 14 themselves.

Having gotten off to slow starts in each of their last two games, both losses, LMU came out firing on Saturday, with their first four field goals, and six of their first nine, coming from three-point range. The Gaels countered by going inside to Tomlinson, who had 11 points in the first half, and hitting the boards, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds. Still, the Lions led 37-35 at the break.

After grabbing the lead at the 11:37 mark of the first half, LMU maintained its advantage until a 7-0 Gael run gave the visitors a 51-50 lead on a layup by Tomlinson with 14:12 to go. The Lions answered right back with a three-pointer by Young and never relinquished its lead, going up by as many as seven, 68-61 with 6:50 remaining before the Gaels slowly climbed back.

LMU takes to the road for the next three games, starting with a trip to local rival Pepperdine on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the first game of a women's/men's double header.