Whoever declared that good defense stops good offense will get an argument from Loyola Marymount, which scored a 98-81 victory over St. Mary's Saturday before a crowd of 3,200 at Gersten Pavilion.
The win was Loyola's ninth in a row and improved its record to 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the West Coast Athletic Conference.
It was also a decisive statement for Loyola's all-out offense. St. Mary's (8-5, 0-2) is second in the nation in defense, allowing about 56 points per game, and had not given up more than 70 points in 38 games. Loyola, averaging about 106 points, is second in the country in scoring.
Loyola's full-court press forced the pace early, and the Lions quickly built a lead that reached 27-11. St. Mary's cut the lead to 44-37 at the half when Dan Curry hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, but Loyola steadily rebuilt the lead in the second half on a mixture of full-court pressure and three-pointers.
Loyola held a 65-45 lead with 10:50 left, and the closing minutes fell into low comedy as the Lion reserves committed a series of intentional fouls trying to reach 100 points, and the Gaels kept pulling the ball out.
"The last two minutes were bizarre," Loyola Coach Paul Westhead said.
St. Mary's Coach Lynn Nance, who declined to shake Westhead's hand after the game, saw it from a different perspective: "I have never experienced that before, where someone tried to intentionally foul to score 100."
He jokingly added, "If I'd anticipated that, I would have put my foul shooters in. Maybe we'd have won."
That's doubtful, the way both teams played. Loyola shot 53% from the floor, hit 9 of 17 three-pointers, made 7 more field goals and had five players in double figures, led by Mike Yoest and Corey Gaines with 19 apiece and Hank Gathers with 18. Yoest had 9 rebounds.
St. Mary's made only 3 of its first 12 shots, nearly all of them layup attempts, and was in foul trouble much of the second half. Curry led the Gaels with 19 points and 9 rebounds.