Loyola Steps on the Gas, Holds Off USD

What, Paul Westhead worry?

Nah.

The man has seen a lot of baskets in his five years at Loyola Marymount.

So there was little cause for concern when exuberant, upset-minded University of San Diego began pressing his 23rd-ranked Lions Saturday night in front of a standing-room-only crowd listed at 2,500 in the USD Sports Center.

As long as the pace was furious and the score high, Westhead was happy.

Loyola Marymount usually wins these games, and Saturday was no different. The final: Loyola Marymount 119, USD 112.

It was the Lions' fourth consecutive victory, their second in the West Coast Conference. The 11-3 start equals their best ever. In 1987-88, Loyola started 10-3 and also defeated USD in the 14th game. They did not lose again until the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finished 28-4.

USD, which dropped its second in a row after a three-game winning streak, fell to 6-9 and 1-2.

"I like that pace. I knew we were all right because the score was so high," said Westhead, who added that his team did not play up to potential.

"Sub-par," Lion forward Bo Kimble said. "I know we can play a lot better, but we've got to hand it to San Diego. They played well. They had us scouted well. They were prepared."

USD did play well but lost to the Lions for the fifth time in a row. In each, Loyola has scored more than a 100 points. The Lions, second in the nation in scoring with a 117.6 average going in, hit 100 for the 12th time in 14 games.

"They're so unique that they make it hard for you to adjust," USD Coach Hank Egan said.

Hank Gathers led all scorers with 32 points, the first time he has led the Lions in scoring since a fainting incident Dec. 9 against UC Santa Barbara. Bo Kimble, the nation's scoring leader, was nine under his season average with 28 points. Jeff Fryer added 19.

Dondi Bell had a career-high 20 points for USD. Craig Cottrell had 18 and John Jerome and Wayman Strickland 17 apiece.

USD raced to an early lead, scoring the first six points as LMU missed its first four shots. The Toreros held the advantage until Per Stumer made a three-pointer with 12:20 left, giving the Lions their first lead, 19-16.

LMU took a 34-27 lead with 8:45 left, but two Craig Cottrell layups, a Dondi Bell five-footer and a Kelvin Woods layup, sandwiched around a Kimble basket, pulled USD to within 36-35.

Minutes later, Wayman Strickland tied it, 41-41, with a pair of free throws. But Kimble quickly answered with a three-pointer to put LMU back on top.

Late in the half, the Lions rallied for nine consecutive points and took their biggest lead before halftime, 56-45, with 2:30 left. But two baskets each by Cottrell and Dondi Bell pulled USD within eight.

After LMU's John O'Connell made one of two free throws, USD's Gylan Dottin got his first two points, free throws with two seconds left, to end the first-half scoring.

Despite repeated efforts by USD to slow the pace--Egan called four timeouts in the first half--the point totals were easily the most scored and allowed by USD this season.

USD got to within five a number of times in the second half, but Loyola Marymount eventually built a double-digit lead with about five minutes left. The Toreros scored the last nine points.

As is normal when the Lions play, there were a number of spectacular sequences. Similar flying left-hand slams by Kimble were two of the better ones. The first, at 14:27 of the second half, came off a long pass from Tom Peabody. The second came seconds later after a USD turnover. Bell had a pair of decent two-hand slams, but a one-handed Michael Jordan-like jam over an LMU player brought the loudest cheer from USD's biggest crowd of the year.

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