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BYU basketball: Bottom seed LMU knocks off Portland, will play Cougars Saturday in WCC quarterfinals

Published: Sunday, Aug. 30 2015 12:15 p.m. MDT

Loyola Marymount's Alozie Erondu, left, and Nick Stover celebrate their victory over Portland's following a West Coast Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game on Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. Loyola Marymount defeated Portland 67-64. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) (Isaac Brekken, AP) Loyola Marymount's Alozie Erondu, left, and Nick Stover celebrate their victory over Portland's following a West Coast Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game on Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. Loyola Marymount defeated Portland 67-64. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) (Isaac Brekken, AP)

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.

“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.

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