Nov. 23, 2007
Los Angeles, CA - LMU never trailed, jumping out to a 16-point first half lead and cruising to a 69-39 victory over Jackson State on the opening day of the Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament Friday at Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA. The Lions (3-2) will face Indiana State tomorrow in the Championship Game at 4 p.m.
Sophomore Lisa Helmers hit a career-high four three-pointers en route to tying her career-high with 12 points to lead the Lions. Helmers made three of her first four from long range and finished 4-for-8 from downtown. On a balanced scoring night, senior Amanda DeCoud was the only other Lion in double figures, scoring 11 points to go along with five assists and four steals. Senior Valerie Ogoke made all four of her shots from the floor, barely missed a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds while sophomore Jessica Vargas continued her outstanding play with eight points and six boards. Redshirt freshman Aleyse Evans had a game-high 11 rebounds, six offensive, to go along with five points for the Lions.
LaSharee Christian and DeQuisha Davis each had 10 points for the Lady Tigers (1-2).
LMU finished the game shooting 44.8% (26-for-58) from the floor and out-rebounding Jackson State 49-35. Thanks to the rebounding margin, LMU controlled the paint, out-scoring the Lady Tigers 38-8 down low. The Lion defense held the Lady Tigers to 23.6% (13-for-55) from the field, the lowest total by an LMU opponent this season.
The Lions jumped on top early, pressuring the Lady Tigers into missing their first seven shots. Helmers was particularly hot from outside, making three of her first four three-point attempts to stake LMU to a 19-7 advantage with 9:39 to go. That lead grew to 22-7 on a layup by DeCoud and stayed around 15 as LMU went into the locker room up 30-14.
LMU was doing it on both ends of the floor, holding the Lady Tigers to 13.6% (3-for-22) shooting in the first half while hitting 39.3% (11-for-28). Both teams committed 12 turnovers but the Lions held a sizable advantage on the boards, 26-17. LMU outscored JSU 14-2 in the paint and 7-0 on second chance points in the opening period.
Not wanting to give the Lady Tigers any momentum, LMU opened the second half on an 11-0 run. Jessica Vargas got things going with a three-pointer and Aleyse Evans followed with a three-point play inside. After Helmers knocked down her fourth three-pointer of the night, Evans had an offensive rebound-put back to make it 41-18. The Lions shot 50% (15-for-30) in the second half to hold off any JSU rally.
With the win all but secured, LMU was able to rest its starters and spread around the playing time. Every Lion who saw the court scored as the hosts posted their second-largest margin of victory in the 11-year history of their home tournament. LMU beat Army 79-43 in 1999.
The Lions will face Indiana State in Saturday's final. The Sycamores held off a late run by San Diego State for a 75-68 victory in Friday's first game. Kelsey Luna had 24 points for ISU, Angela Phillips had 20 points, and Laura Rudophi had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Paris Johnson led the Aztecs with 27 points and 13 rebounds.