GAME NOTES: A pair of teams residing at the bottom of the West Coast Conference standings are set to meet tonight at Gersten Pavilion, as the Loyola Marymount Lions play host to the Broncos of Santa Clara.
Santa Clara has split its last four games after losing seven in a row. However, the Broncos are coming off a 76-54 setback to Saint Mary's over the weekend. They'll finish up the regular season at Pepperdine on Saturday.
Loyola Marymount's struggles date back a bit further as the team has lost 13 of its last 14 games. The Lions have been idle since last Thursday's 72-69 loss to Pepperdine. They'll conclude regular-season play against San Francisco this weekend.
SCU leads the all-time series, 84-57, and that includes an 86-81 win over LMU on Jan. 4. It is worth noting, however, that the Lions knocked the Broncos out of the WCC Tournament last season with a two-point victory.
The Broncos had all kinds of trouble trying to contain Saint Mary's guard Stephen Holt, who poured in a career-high 35 points in Saturday's matchup. To put that into perspective, SCU had 23 points at halftime, whereas Holt scored 21 first-half points on his own. The Gaels went on to shoot 59.2 percent from the floor as a team. Brandon Clark led the Broncos with 16 points off the bench in the loss, while Evan Roquemore scored 13. On the season, Clark leads the squad with 17.0 ppg, followed by Jared Brownridge with 16.3 ppg. Brownridge is a hot candidate for WCC Newcomer of the Year and is on pace to break several of the school's freshman records. Roquemore rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.3 ppg.
Leading the way for Loyola Marymount are guards Anthony Ireland and Evan Payne. Ireland paces the squad with 18.8 ppg, while Payne is averaging 15.1 ppg. That duo has accounted for 71 of LMU's 125 3-pointers made this season, or 57 percent of its perimeter production. Down low, Gabe Levin is tallying 11.1 ppg and a team-best 7.0 rpg. But where the Lions have really struggled is at the defensive end, as they are allowing foes to shoot 37.3 percent from beyond the arc and put up 78.0 ppg. The Lions put up a fight against Pepperdine last week, but they were unable to get a final shot to fall at the buzzer. LMU committed just six turnovers, but struggled to keep pace with a Pepperdine team that shot 50 percent from the floor and made 10 3-pointers. The Waves also enjoyed a huge 47-6 edge in bench points.
LMU's bench has been outscored by a combined 76-8 margin over the last two games. Even though the Lions face a vulnerable opponent here, they'll need more balanced production.
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