GAME NOTES: The Lions of Loyola Marymount try to make it a clean sweep tonight, as they tangle with the BYU Cougars in a West Coast Conference battle at the Marriott Center.
These two teams kicked off their respective WCC schedules against each other on Dec, 28 at Gersten Pavilion, as the hosts claimed an 87-76 victory, thanks to 27 points by Evan Payne, leading four Lions in double figures. With the victory, LMU knotted the all-time series at 4-4.
However, more recently the Lions have come back to the pack, losing three straight contests. In addition to bowing to San Francisco and Santa Clara on the road earlier this month, Loyola Marymount also suffered a 74-67 setback versus San Diego on Thursday night. On Dec. 30, the Lions actually defeated the Toreros at home (65-62), so maybe the second time around is not as favorable for the program.
As for the Cougars, a team which has won all but one of eight games at home in Provo, they are currently enjoying a minor two-game win streak, following a four-game slide. The team was also in action two nights ago and used the opportunity to grab an 84-72 win against visiting Pepperdine.
Loyola Marymount shot a respectable 48.1 percent from the field and 6-of-15 behind the 3-point line against San Diego at Jenny Craig Pavilion, but where the team failed to compete was at the free-throw line where they were outscored by a 23-11 margin. Anthony Ireland produced 18 points and five rebounds before fouling out, followed by Payne who tallied 17 points and was charged with four turnovers.
In conference play Ireland is averaging 18.8 ppg, with a solid portion of his points coming at the free-throw line where he has made more shots (27-of-36) than any one of his teammates has yet to attempt. Payne is responsible for another 16.2 ppg in those league bouts, thanks in large part to his 48.0 percent behind the 3-point line.
They scored the first points of the game with Pepperdine, but still it took some time for the Cougars to warm up on offense, turning a three-point halftime lead into a double-digit victory at home. Tyler Haws erupted for 35 points, converting 4-of-6 beyond the arc and a perfect 9-of-9 at the free- throw line, while Skyler Halford produced 18 points and Matt Carlino 10 off the bench. Coming up just a single assist shy of a triple-double was Kyle Collinsworth who tallied 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Collinsworth has been doing it all for BYU since conference play began, averaging 14.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg and almost 7.0 apg, not to mention recording a team-best 10 steals at the defensive end of the floor. The emergence of Collinsworth means Haws has a bit more freedom to find his shot on offense, leading to his team-best 20.8 ppg in conference. Halford, who has moved into the starting lineup in favor of Carlino (8.3 ppg), has come up with 15.5 ppg as the team generates 80.2 ppg.
Having Carlino come off the bench to provide a spark seems to be paying off for the Cougars at the moment and seeing as how LMU is moving in the wrong direction of late, a little payback probably wouldn't be a bad thing this time around.
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