It wasn't artistic and it wasn't even particularly entertaining, but Loyola Marymount won its last nonconference basketball game of the season, 113-89, over Azusa Pacific Saturday at Gersten Pavilion.
A crowd of 1,875 saw Loyola ho-hum its way to its seventh straight victory to improve to 10-3. The Lions begin West Coast Athletic Conference play Friday night, riding their best start since 1961-62.
Azusa Pacific hung tough and was within 12 points with 13 minutes left but lost its ninth straight game and fell to 2-13.
Loyola, which led 49-39 at halftime, could never quite deal the final blow, pulling away only in the closing minutes.
A few Lions managed to rise above the lethargy. Forward Mike Yoest tied a school record by making 16 free throws (in 19 attempts). That tied him with Garnette Brown (1956-57) and Greg Goorjian (1982-83). Yoest finished with 22 points.
Guard Corey Gaines scored a game-high 26 points, including several acrobatic driving layups, and added 5 assists. He hit 10 of 12 shots. And guard Bo Kimble, who tied Gaines for scoring honors, had two explosive scoring spurts that probably put the game away.
The Lions pulled out to an early 29-18 lead, but in the final two minutes Azusa pulled within two at 39-37. Kimble then scored eight straight points in 23 seconds on a three-pointer, a steal, another three-pointer, another steal and a layup. He had a similar burst in the second half and hit 4 of 6 from three-point range.
Hank Gathers added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Lions, though he didn't play a dominating game.
Azusa Pacific center Bill DesRochers led the Cougars with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and guard Steve Lopez added 18 points.
The Cougars stayed in the game by controlling the tempo and hitting 27 of 29 free throws. They also shot 53.6% from the floor but had eight less field goals than Loyola, which shot 47.5%. The Lions out-rebounded Azusa Pacific, 40-34.
"We got a better game than we anticipated," Loyola Coach Paul Westhead said. He added that the team "is right where we'd like to be" going into conference.