Mid-January might be early to talk about must-win situations, but Loyola Marymount might have faced one Saturday night. Once again, the Lions came up short in the second half and lost to Pepperdine, 101-95, before 2,878 at Gersten Pavilion,
Doug Christie, the Waves’ 6-foot-6 guard, appeared uninterested in scoring in the first half, getting only four points and taking only four shots as Loyola took a 60-52 lead.
But Christie took over the game in the final 10 minutes, scoring 16 of his 24 points and grabbing several rebounds to help the Waves hold off Loyola.
It was the first time in five years that Pepperdine has swept Loyola, and it’s the Lions worst West Coast Conference start (0-4) since the 1978-79 season.
Pepperdine moved to within a half-game of first place San Diego in the conference at 3-1 (9-8 overall). Loyola is 6-12.
Geoff Lear, whose inside scoring kept the Waves close in the first half, finished with 28 points. Loyola’s Terrell Lowery led all scorers with 30 points, with John O’Connell adding 19 and Ross Richardson 17. But Lowery, who scored 17 in the second half, got little support as the Lions were outscored, 49-35.
Loyola set the pace at the outset, pulling away from a 7-7 tie with a 14-2 run and running off an 8-0 string in the final minute before halftime.
Much of the Lions’ first-half lead came via eight three-point baskets in 12 attempts, four apiece by Lowery and Richardson, who combined for 27 points.
Pepperdine, trying to slow the tempo and force the ball inside, got 19 points from Lear but also made four of five three-pointers. Both teams shot better than 60% in the half.
Pepperdine was the pace-setter early in the second half, drawing to 62-61 on Christie’s three-point play and taking its first lead since the opening minutes, 67-65, on a three-point shot by Rick Welch with 16 minutes to go.
There were four lead changes and six ties in the next 10 minutes, until Christie scored 13 points in a four-minute span to give the Waves a 94-86 lead with three minutes to play.
Lowery answered with five points, and the game wasn’t decided until Lear converted a rebound of a missed free throw and Christie added three free throws in the final 17 seconds.