They ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go Saturday.
But after playing 45 minutes of the most nonstop offense since Pete Maravich left school here in 1970, Loyola Marymount found it could not run through the trees of Louisiana State’s front line often enough.
LSU 7-footers Shaquille O’Neal and Stanley Roberts provided enough edge to hold off Loyola in overtime, 148-141, before 14,084 in the Maravich Assembly Center.
There were 11 LSU records set in the game, including most points in a game involving a Southeastern Conference team, by the winner and both teams combined.
The key record was 12 blocked shots by the freshman O’Neal.
Four came in the first minute and set a pattern of inside domination by the Tigers, who outrebounded Loyola, 65-43, with O’Neal grabbing 24. His 20 points gave him an unusual triple-double.
The loss snapped a nine-game Loyola winning streak and left the 20th-ranked Lions at 16-4. Four Loyola players scored at least 20 points, led by Hank Gathers’ season-high 48. The Lions forced the pace the entire game, confusing LSU into 29 turnovers, taking 116 shots (a school-record 45 three-pointers) and erasing deficits that reached 16 points near halftime and 12 with 4:40 left in regulation.
Loyola came back to tie at 134-134 and had a chance to win with 10 seconds to go, but Terrell Lowery missed the first of a one-and-one free throw opportunity to force overtime.
In the extra period, LSU star Chris Jackson fouled out with 2:53 to play and Loyola leading by a point. The Tigers went to their big men, and consecutive baskets by Roberts and O’Neal put them ahead for good.
“I thought we were one basket away, and we got a steal. If we’d made it, it would’ve been tough (for LSU) to crawl out,” Loyola Coach Paul Westhead said. “After the Jackson foul they made a concerted effort to go inside. That wasn’t a very nice thing to do.”
Roberts finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He and O’Neal were a combined 19 for 22 from the floor. Seven LSU players were in double figures, led by Jackson’s 34. The 14th-ranked Tigers improved to 16-4.
Westhead noted that, while the Loyola press caused problems, once LSU got the ball upcourt, “We were almost incapable of stopping them. They have a great perimeter player in Jackson and a great internal game. You can’t stay back, and you can’t stay out. Inside, they were even better than I thought they were going to be.”
Bo Kimble noted: “They were so dominant inside, at times we just didn’t have an answer.”
The Lions took a 31-30 lead on a three-pointer by Jeff Fryer, but Roberts went on a scoring tear and LSU pulled away to a 64-48 lead late in the half. The Tigers led at the break, 72-58.
Loyola cut the lead to 76-72 with a 14-4 run to open the second half. The Lions pulled to within one twice, but LSU led, 126-114, when Randy Devall hit a three-pointer with 4:40 left. After a timeout, Loyola scored the next 10 points.
“I thought somebody flushed a toilet. Poof, (the lead) was gone,” LSU Coach Dale Brown said.
Gathers’ three-point play got the Lions back to 128-127 with 3:06 to play, and Loyola pulled even at 134 on a three-point play by Kimble, who finished with 32.
When Jackson missed a short jump shot, Gathers grabbed the rebound with 25 seconds left. Loyola’s Lowery, who had 20 points, missed a free throw with 10 seconds to play, and the game went into overtime.
Before the tip, Gathers told O’Neal, “It’s gonna be five more minutes of war. You better be ready.”
Gathers scored the first two baskets in overtime, but that proved to be the last gasp for Loyola.
Devall hit a three-pointer, Roberts put the Tigers up by a point with a short jump shot, and O’Neal made a short hook to put LSU ahead, 141-138. O’Neal blocked a shot by Kimble, and guard Maurice Williamson, who suffered a broken nose late in the second half, scored the next four points.
Gathers, who had 13 rebounds, said: “We missed some key shots. I think we more or less beat ourselves. We couldn’t have asked for a better game. I love that kind of game.”
He wasn’t alone. Brown called Westhead’s running game revolutionary.
“I love this kind of game,” said LSU forward Vernel Singleton after scoring a season-high 22 points. “This is the most fun I ever had in a game.”