We had to dig in early, at about the 12-minute mark of the first half. We were full-court pressing. I’m not sure we would have done that under the old format where you have to play again the (next) night. —LMU coach Max Good
LAS VEGAS — Loyola Marymount is at it again.
Last year, the bottom-seeded Lions defied the odds and battled their way to the West Coast Conference semifinals.
Thursday, No. 10 seed LMU (13-18) overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to knock off No. 7 seed Portland, 67-64, in the first round of the WCC tournament at Orleans Arena.
By virtue of their win over the Pilots, the Lions advance to the quarterfinals. They'll take on No. 2 seed BYU Saturday (3:30 p.m. MST, BYUtv).
Down by double digits, LMU employed an effective full-court press against Portland. The Lions forced 20 Pilot turnovers and scored 30 points off those turnovers.
“We had to dig in early, at about the 12-minute mark of the first half," said LMU coach Max Good. "We were full-court pressing. I’m not sure we would have done that under the old format where you have to play again the (next) night."
Freshman Evan Payne, who finished with a game-high 19 points, recorded a steal and a dunk midway through the second half “that kind of electrified us and fueled us," Good said. That kick-started a 15-3 LMU run that saw the Lions take a 56-52 advantage with five minutes remaining.
Senior guard Anthony Ireland hit just 4 of 16 shots for the Lions, but he finished with 14 points and six assists.26 comments on this story
“Anthony didn’t have one of his better games," Good said. "I’d still take him eight days a week. On his bad game, he helped us win.”
LMU overcame double-doubles by Portland's Thomas Van der Mars and Ryan Nicholas. Bobby Sharp drilled 6 of 9 3-pointers and finished with 18 points for the Pilots.
BYU and LMU split the regular-season series, with each team winning at home.
Good said his team will spend most of Friday watching film and preparing for the Cougars.