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Pressure? Lion Mike Yoest Felt It but Beat It With Last-Second Shot

Mike Yoest talked about his game-winning free throw against Santa Clara last week in dreamy terms. Yoest went to the line with two seconds left and the game tied at 93 before a loud, hostile crowd at Santa Clara, and his free throw was the difference in a 94-93 victory.

Loyola held the ball for the last shot and Yoest tried a jumper. It didn’t fall but he was knocked down by defender Jens Gordon.

Officials ruled that the foul was made after the shot, putting the pressure on Yoest to make the first of a one-and-one situation. As he prepared to shoot, Santa Clara Coach Carroll Williams called a timeout--to upset Yoest.

Yoest was anxious but confident: “I kept telling myself, ‘It’s going in. It’s going in.’ I was confident. I was a little nervous. Anybody’s who not nervous in that situation is either frozen or lying.”

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In the stands, his father, Dave, almost couldn’t bear the tension. “Mike will be all right,” a friend told him. The agitated father replied, “But I won’t.”

Yoest, who had missed five free throws in 12 attempts, coolly swished the first one. He didn’t get a chance to shoot a second because as he was handed the ball, teammate Hank Gathers left his rebounding spot, an automatic lane violation. But the game was decided.

“I knew it was going in. It felt good all the way into the net,” Yoest said. “The win felt even better. I was living a fantasy. This is what you practice when you’re a kid in the backyard--no time left, tie score, you’re at the foul line.”

To Coach Paul Westhead, it was predictable stuff. “Captain Yoest comes through in the end,” he said. “Obviously, Yoest delivered his experience and his effort of four years in one shot.”

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It was a shot heard ‘round the West Coast Athletic Conference, since the game was a fight for first place. Loyola’s victory gave the Lions an 8-0 conference mark, two games ahead of Santa Clara and Pepperdine at 6-2. Santa Clara comes to Gersten Pavilion on Friday for the rematch.

Yoest said the Santa Clara game had extra meaning even if it hadn’t been for first place. The Broncos are a physical team, and there is no love between the schools.

“This wasn’t just another league game. This is a big game. The rivalry goes right up there just about with Loyola-Pepperdine,” Yoest said.

Westhead took his hot Loyola Marymount team to the San Francisco Bay area last week a day after Stanford upset nationally top-ranked Arizona, the start of a string of upsets around the country. Westhead wasn’t unduly surprised. “There are always excuses for why you lost. You can come up with hundreds of reasons,” the veteran coach said. “The hard part is winning.”

Incidental Stats: Loyola Marymount is second among Los Angeles basketball teams in scoring--right behind the Lakers. The defending NBA champs are averaging 112.8 points per game. Loyola is at 108.4. The Clippers, last in the NBA in scoring, are averaging 97.3. (Pro teams play 48 minutes, colleges 40.) UCLA is scoring 81.6, Pepperdine 78.5, USC 61.8. For what it’s worth, Crenshaw High, the nation’s top-ranked prep team in USA Today, is averaging about 90.

Cal State Dominguez Hills’ basketball team came into the week at third in the nation in free-throw shooting in Division II. The Toros were 76% from the line, led by freshman guards Bryan Dell’Amico (85%) and Robert Barksdale (86%).

Junior center Anthony Blackmon is among conference leaders in free-throw shooting at 79% and has hit 60% from the field in his last 13 games, averaging 18 points. Blackmon scored 16 points in Tuesday’s loss against Chapman, leaving him with 781, 8 behind Tony Akins for seventh on the school career scoring list. Blackmon also ranks fourth in career rebounds.

College Notes

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Yoest has 1,399 career points and has moved into eighth place on the Loyola career list. He needs 27 points to pass Rick Adelman. . . . Pepperdine forward Levy Middlebrooks needs 16 rebounds to become the school’s all-time leader. . . . St. Mary’s junior forward Robert Haugen, who led the WCAC in field-goal percentage the last two seasons, is shooting only 37% in conference games this year. However, Haugen has hit 25 straight free throws. . . . The Cal State Los Angeles connection to Westchester High was evident in the Eagles’ opening baseball series last week against UC Santa Barbara. Mica Lewis had a double, triple and drove in three runs and Chuck Elder hit a three-run homer in a 12-7 victory. . . . Greg Butler, the 6-10 Rolling Hills High graduate, had a key tip-in and free throws in Stanford’s upset of Arizona last week. The senior, known for his outside shooting, has rounded into a respectable center this season. He’s averaging 12.7 points, shooting 60% and hitting nearly 70% in Pac-10 games. . . . Every player on the Cal State Dominguez hills women’s basketball team has been the leading scorer this season in at least one game except Adrienne Haynes. Seven players have led at least twice. . . . Dominguez Hills center Kathy Goggin has been named a district academic All-American. The award makes the psychology major with a 3.8 grade-point average eligible for further recognition. . . . After his Gonzaga basketball team lost at home to St. Mary’s, 77-64 in overtime, Coach Dan Fitzgerald indicated his entire lineup might change this week. “The five guys who practice the hardest this week will start,” he said.


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