The cavalry may arrive for the Loyola Marymount men’s basketball team this weekend, although it may not be in time.
Coming off its 1-2 performance in the Maui Classic last weekend, the Lions play another three-games-in-three-days string, competing in the Freedom Bowl Invitational at UC Irvine tonight and Saturday before traveling to UCLA Sunday.
The Lions open tonight at 6 o’clock against Bradley (0-1) in an underwhelming Irvine field. The host Anteaters (1-2) face Idaho State (1-1) in the second game, with the winners and losers playing Saturday.
Loyola, Bradley and Irvine all play a running game, but there is no dominating team in the field. The Lions, who left several injured starters home and had a noticeably depleted lineup against the strong Maui field, should hold their own in Irvine.
They expect to have 6-foot-10 center Richard Petruska in uniform and even a few effective minutes could help. In their two losses in Maui, the Lions got pounded inside for 120 rebounds by Santa Clara and Northeastern, a part of the game Loyola usually won in past years with Hank Gathers in the middle.
Bradley lost its opener, 93-70, at Georgia Southern. Standout guard Curtis Stuckey scored 32 points for the Braves.
Bradley is coached by former NBA coach Stan Albeck, who is accustomed to having a big scorer. Three years ago the Braves’ Hersey Hawkins led the nation in scoring, and Stuckey was the Missouri Valley Conference’s scoring leader last season. But he got little support against Georgia Southern from the front-court starters, who shot only two for 14 from the field.
Loyola produced the past two national scoring champions in Gathers and Bo Kimble. This is the first meeting between the schools.
Loyola will need a strong effort to compete Sunday with 10th-rated UCLA, which will be well-rested after having last played on Monday when it defeated Virginia to win the Great Alaska Shootout.
The Lions hope to suit up co-captain Tom Peabody for Sunday’s 5 p.m. game, although his status is still questionable. Peabody missed last week’s action with a severly sprained ankle but has been running lightly on it this week. Point guard Tony Walker’s injured wrist remains in a cast and his playing status for the season is in doubt.
The Lions’ inexperience was evident last week. In their opener against Santa Clara, they saw a nine-point halftime lead turn into an 11-point second-half deficit. When they made a late run, their lineup included several freshmen and only one player who was on the team last season.
Terrell Lowery leads the Lions with a 25-point average, followed by Craig Holt at 18.3, freshman Kareem Washington at 16 and Brian McCloskey at 14. John O’Connell is averaging 13.7 points and a team-high 9.3 rebounds.
Starting with the UCLA game, every team on Loyola’s schedule until Christmas is currently ranked in the Top 20.
The Loyola Marymount women’s basketball team (1-1) will be tested at 5 tonight when it meets Vanderbilt in the opening round of the Lady Ute Classic in Salt Lake City. In the second game, host Utah meets Southwest Texas State.
Vanderbilt (2-1) is led by 6-4 All-American center Wendy Scholtens, who scored 19 points Wednesday in a victory over Maine to surpass 2,000 in her career. The Lady Commodores are ranked 22nd in the nation.
The Lions are coming off a 109-62 loss at Arizona State in which they committed 32 turnovers.
Loyola returns home next week to play its next four games in Gersten Pavilion, starting with Nevada at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.