MORAGA, Calif. - For the third straight week, the Lions pulled out a victory on Senior Day, getting 18 points from Amanda Patton and another double double from senior Ashlee Dunlap for a 76-61 win over Saint Mary's in Moraga, Calif. this afternoon. With the win, the Lions secure the #3 seed in the WCC Tournament, and will face Santa Clara in the first round of the tournament on Thursday.
LMU wins its third straight, improving to 17-11 overall, 9-5 in WCC action. Saint Mary's sees its five game winning streak come to an end, falling to 14-13 overall, 8-6 in conference play.
LMU is now 3-0 on Senior Days, winning its own over San Francisco, and ruining senior celebrations for Pepperdine and now Saint Mary's. The Lions were led by their own seniors Patton and Dunlap in each game.
The Gaels started well, taking a 16-9 lead, but LMU switched to a zone defense that shut down SMC. The Gaels were held scoreless from the 8:20 mark until 2:55, and the Lions were able to rally back and take the lead, 24-23, on a layup by Valerie Ogoke at 6:17. After a free throw gave LMU a 25-23 lead, the Gaels tied it back up with a layup by Eghosa Obaiza at 2:55 to stop the 6-0 LMU run.
A three-pointer by Serena Benavente gave SMC a 28-25 lead but a floater by Kavita Goss cut it to one. A jumper by Benavente extended the SMC lead back to three, 30-27, but LMU used back to back baskets by Jenna Sybmesa to regain the lead, 31-30. A steal and drive to the basket by Jessica Vargas in the closing seconds of the half made it a 33-30 LMU lead at the break.
LMU shot 44.1% freom the field, while the Gaels shot 40%. LMU outrebounded SMC 22-14, led by Dunlap and Ogoke with five each. Ogoke led the Lions with 10 points in the first half, while Benavente led all players with 16 points.
The Lions scored the first eight point of the second half to extend their lead to 41-30. A pair of free throws by Benavente at 16:22 gave the Gaels their first points of the second half. Strong shooting from the Lions gave LMU a 52-36 lead at 12:14 on a jumper by Dunlap. LMU extended its lead to 18 points, 58-40, with a three-pointer by Kavita Goss at 9:16. SMC cut the lead to 11 but strong defense by the Lions held off the Gaels.
Dunlap and Amanda Patton hit key shots in the second half, as SMC shot just 37.9%. The Lions shot 48.5% in the second half, outscoring 43-31 in the period.
Patton led the way with 18 points, and Dunlap and Ogoke added 13 points. Amanda DeCoud finished with 12 points, six assists and four steals. She also pulled down five rebounds and blocked a shot. Dunlap led all players with 11 rebounds, marking her third double double of the year.
Benavente finished with 22, and Jontelle Smith added 10 points.
The Lions earn the third seed in the WCC Tournament and will face Santa Clara in the first round on Thursday. Game times will be announced later this week.- GO LIONS! -