Nov. 24, 2007
Los Angeles, CA - LMU claimed its first Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Tournament title since 2003 with a convincing 74-51 victory over Indiana State in the championship game Saturday at Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA. The Lions (4-2) win their second game in a row while handing the Sycamores (3-1) their first loss of the season. In doing so, the Lions take home their fourth title in the 11-year history of their traditional home Thanksgiving tournament.
None of the members of the current Lion squad had ever tasted victory in their home tourney, having lost in the finals in 2006 and 2004 and falling in the first round in 2005. That would soon change as the focused Lion squad never trailed in the tournament, winning its two games by a combined 53 points.
Senior Amanda DeCoud took home tournament Most Valuable Player honors, serving as the catalyst for the Lions on both offense and defense. DeCoud finished the final with nine points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals. In the two games, DeCoud averaged 10.0 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 steals, and 3.0 rebounds.
Sophomore Lisa Helmers led the Lions in scoring for the second straight game, ending up with a career-high 16 to a place on the All-Tournament team. Helmers hit eight threes in the two games, tying for the third-most in tournament history. Senior Valerie Ogoke posted her second double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, adding three blocks. All 11 Lions who played got on the scoresheet.
Angela Phillips paced the Sycamores with 11 points and was also on the All-Tournament team, joined by teammate Kelsey Luna, who finished with five in this game after netting 24 the night before.
For the second straight day, the Lions came out inspired, taking it to Indiana State's zone. Long range shooting and tenacious defense carried the load early as LMU hit four three-pointers, two by Helmers, to open up a 20-10 lead with eight minutes gone. On the defensive end, LMU harassed the Sycamores into missing 16 of their first 18 shots.
A three-pointer from the corner by freshman Renahy Young, her second of the game, put the Lions ahead 28-10 with just over eight minutes to go. Indiana State would slowly chip away, cutting it to 34-24 after a 14-6 run. Maria Olsthoorn had five points during the run but the Lions ended the half by going inside to Ogoke and freshman Melanie Ysaguirre to take a 38-24 halftime lead.
Helmers got the Lions started in the second half with a straight-away three and Ogoke followed with a three-point play as LMU made five of its first nine shots coming out of halftime to open up a 51-30 advantage. Six different players scored during the 17-6 run. LMU never looked back, playing steady ball to maintain a double-digit lead.
Earlier in the day, San Diego State defeated Jackson State 63-44 to take third place.
The Lions take to the road next week, traveling to #12 Cal on Wednesday in a game that has been moved up to 11:30 a.m. The Lions then visit Northern Arizona on Sunday at 1 p.m. Pacific.