March 6, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Behind a 21-point, eight rebound effort from senior Ashley Hamilton, and support throughout the line-up, the LMU men's basketball team earned a 65-54 win over Portland in the opening game of the 2013 West Coast Conference Championship Wednesday night at the Orleans Arena.
The win snaps a 14-game skid for the Lions, and it came at the perfect time for the Lions.
"We have been really struggling, but made tonight possible is that this team never gave up. I can honestly tell you that each and every day this team, every one of them, left everything on the floor. And when you do that, and some point your hard work will pay off. It did tonight. I am very happy for these guys."
With the win, the Lions (9-22) advance to Thursday's second round game against the No. 5 seed San Francisco Dons, and avenge a pair of regular-season losses to the Pilots (11-21). The WCC second round begins with the Lions and Dons at 6 pm, followed by San Diego taking on Pepperdine at 8:30 pm. Both games will be aired on BYUtv. The Lions game will be on KXLU 88.9 FM.
Anthony Ireland joined Hamilton in double-figures, finishing with 12 points to go along with four assists and three steals. Alex Osborne and Taylor Walker chipped in eight apiece, while Nick Stover had seven, all in the first half.
"Everyone left everything out on the floor tonight," said Good. "Each guy played their role very well and it got us this win."
LMU shot 46 percent from the field for the game and 43 percent from beyond the arc. It was their defense, however, that led the way, as they turned a season-high 14 steals into 22 points-off-turnovers.
Portland trimmed an 11-point LMU lead to just five with 2:44 to play, but would then commit four turnovers down the stretch, including three on their final three possessions.
"Portland really lit us up in the regular season and we really challenged our guys defensively," said Good. "They really responded and I thought we did a great job."
Hamilton, who finished 8-for-12 from the field, keyed the Lions to start both halves strong, scoring five of LMU's first seven points to open the game and their first seven to start the second half. He hit a three on the Lions' first possession and LMU stayed hot, hitting seven of their first nine attempts to hold a 14-9 advantage at the 14:16 mark.
Back-to-back buckets by Portland's Thomas van der Mars first knotted the game at 21 apiece, then gave the Pilots their first lead of the night, 24-23, with 5:36 to play in the first half.
Trailing by one with 4:20 on the clock, a tip in by Stover sparked an 8-3 LMU run to close out the half. Hamilton threw down back-to-back dunks and Godwin Okonji added a pair of free throws as the Lions took a 34-30 lead into the break.
Portland cut the Lions' lead to one early in the second half, but a series of mini runs kept the Lions in control. A Walker three with 11:06 to play opened up a nine-point advantage before his jumper with just under seven minutes remaining gave LMU it's first double-digit lead of the game.
Kevin Bailey had 21 points and Ryan Nicholas finished with 18 for the Pilots. After hitting 60 percent (15-of-25) from three in the two previous meetings with the Lions this season, Portland managed just 4-of-16 from beyond the arc Wednesday.