Loyola Marymount played an average game Saturday night, dispatching visiting Niagara, 122-87, in businesslike fashion.
The mismatch lacked the intensity of recent matchups with ranked opponents Oregon State and Oklahoma and was notable for the return of Loyola’s Hank Gathers to the lineup.
With Bo Kimble scoring 38 points--just over his average--and Gathers adding 22, the Lions were right on their scoring average. Jeff Fryer added 19 points.
Gathers hit 10 of 19 shots and grabbed 11 rebounds in 24 minutes, despite missing some plays he normally makes.
“Hank (did) about what we expected,” Lion Coach Paul Westhead said. “He showed flashes of playing well, at times he was off. I thought he played well, but from past performances that wasn’t the Hank you see all the time. It wasn’t bad, though.”
Kimble, who had to do less inside work with Gathers back, hit six of nine three-point shots and 15 of 23 shots overall--just another day at the office. “I was very relaxed today,” Kimble said. “I took what the defense gave me.” The victory sends Loyola on a three-game trip to Ohio and Philadelphia with a 7-2 record. Niagara (1-10) got career-high efforts of 32 points from Patrick Jones and 29 from Darren Brown.
Despite Niagara’s efforts to control the pace, Loyola quickly pulled away, building a 63-37 halftime lead.
Gathers, back in the lineup for the first time in three weeks after fainting in his last appearance Dec. 9, didn’t take long to get going. He scored four of the Lions’ first eight points and had nine as Loyola built a 21-10 lead.
The three-point shooters then took over, with Kimble hitting four long ones as the Lions’ lead reached 28 points. Loyola hit seven three-point shots in the first half. Kimble had 16 points and Gathers 13 by the break. The Lions hit 10 three-point baskets overall.
“For being out two weeks I was in pretty good shape,” Gathers said. “I knew my timing would be off a little, I got stripped a few times, which is very unusual. I blew the lungs out a few times, and everything’s OK.”
The Lions hit the 100-point mark with 6:30 remaining and built the lead to more than 30 points.
Loyola forced 21 turnovers, outrebounded the Eagles, 45-42, and made 10 more field goals.