March 7, 2013
LAS VEGAS - Seniors Alex Cowling and Dani LeNoir were clearly not ready for their collegiate careers to be over. The duo were the driving force early before giving way to their underclassmen late as the No. 5 seed LMU women's basketball team ran away with a 75-53 win over No. 8 seed San Francisco in the second round of the 2013 West Coast Conference Championship Tournament Thursday at the Orleans Arena.
With the victory, the Lions (13-17) advance to the tournament quarterfinals where they will face No. 4 seed BYU Friday at noon. The Dons who earned an 80-48 win over No. 9 Pepperdine in the tournament opener, close out the 2012-13 season 12-19 overall.
Deanna Johnson continued her recent hot streak, finishing with a team-high 17 points on 6-of-11 from the field and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. Cowling finished with 15 points while her classmate LeNoir had an LMU career-high 11. Hazel Ramirez, playing in her first full game back after suffering an ankle injury at Pepperdine on Feb. 21, had 15.
There was little that didn't go the Lions' way early. And there was little that the shorthanded Dons could do about it.
LMU simply could not miss in the first frame, hitting a season-best 56.4 from the field (22-for-39). Cowling knocked down the game's first bucket on LMU's second possession, Johnson followed with a jumper of her own and the Dons' quickly called a time out.
That did little to slow the Lions, however, as Cowling would hit five straight before finishing the half with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting. LMU's senior duo then scored the Lions' next 10 points, building a 14-6 advantage at the 15:26 mark.
A Ramirez jumper with 13:12 to play pushed LMU's lead to double-digits for the first time, 22-11. Following a pair of Mel Khlok free throws, the Lions went on a 14-2 run over the next six minutes, opening up a 21-point spread at the 6:36 mark.
The Lions closed out the half on an 8-1 run, capped by a Cowling layup to carry a 47-18 lead into the break.
Things cooled off in the second half as the Lions hit just seven field goals, but they also went 12-for-16 from the free-throw line, extending their lead to as many as 31 before settling for the 22-point final spread.
San Francisco's stars got theirs in the second half as the senior Khlok finished with a game-high 22 points and Taj Winston chipped in 16.
LMU held a 43-31 advantage on the boards and had 11 steals on USF's 17 turnovers. The Lions finished with a 26-5 points-off-turnovers advantage, scored 17 second-chance points and got 24 points off the bench.
Friday's quarterfinal matchup between the Lions and Cougars will air live on BYUtv, webstreamed on the WCC Digital Network.