GAME NOTES: Saturday's second West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinal game pits the 10th-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions against the second-seeded BYU Cougars at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, with a trip to the conference semifinals on the line.
The winner of this contest will take on the victor in the San Diego-San Francisco matchup.
Loyola Marymount struggled in conference play again this year, suffering two different losing streaks of six and seven games over the course of the regular season. But entering this clash, the Lions have won two of their last three, including a first-four WCC Tournament win over Portland, 67-64.
BYU came on especially strong toward the end of the season, winning eight of the team's last nine games in the regular season. The Cougars took down San Diego, 78-70, last Saturday in the team's last matchup before the postseason started.
BYU leads the brief all-time series with Loyola Marymount, 5-4. The Cougars lost the first meeting with the Lions back on Dec. 28, and then crushed LMU a few weeks later on Jan. 11, 91-68.
Loyola Marymount and Portland were deadlocked, 62-62, with just over half a minute left to play in the first round of the WCC Tournament. But a Nick Stover runner in the lane with 32 ticks on the clock gave the Lions a two- point advantage, which they would increase to three points before the remaining time ticked off. Evan Payne scored a team-high 19 points for the Lions in the win, while Anthony Ireland and Stover each chipped in 14 points. Ireland dished out a team-best six assists, and Stover grabbed seven rebounds.
Ireland tops the Loyola Marymount squad in scoring this season with an 18.5 ppg average on 41 percent shooting, adding a team-high 167 assists and 51 steals to his season resume. Payne checks in at 15.5 ppg, and Gabe Levin contributes 10.9 ppg with a team-high 7 rpg. The Lions had a decent offensive attack this year, averaging 73.3 ppg, but gave up way too much to opponents, allowing 76.9 ppg.
BYU took a 41-33 lead at the end of the first half over San Diego, and simply coasted through the rest of the contest to earn the eight-point victory last Saturday. Tyler Haws was his usual productive self, as he netted 25 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the floor. Matt Carlino came off the bench to score 14 points, Anson Winder chipped in 11 and Kyle Collinsworth scored 10. Nate Austin narrowly missed out on a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Haws picked right up where he left off from last season with a dominant 2013-14 performance, netting a conference-best 23.4 ppg and hitting 43.7 percent of his 3-point attempts. Both Austin (8.3 rpg) and Collinsworth (7.8 rpg) were in the conference's top three this season in rebounding, while Collinsworth added a team-high and third-best in-conference 4.9 apg. Carlino (14.1 ppg), Collinsworth (13.6 ppg) and Eric Mika (12 ppg) round out the Cougars' double-digit scorers. The Cougars averaged an incredible 85 ppg, giving up just 77.2 ppg to opponents.
LMU snuck in a win over BYU early in the season, but there's a very small chance the Cougars will let that happen again. BYU has an extremely high- octane offense, and going against the Lions' terrible scoring defense spells doom for Loyola Marymount.
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