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COLLEGES / ALAN DROOZ : Yanai Credits Defense With Resurrecting Title Hopes

After giving up an uncharacteristic average of 81.5 points in its first two California Collegiate Athletic Assn. games--and losing both--Cal State Dominguez Hills defeated Cal State Los Angeles, 60-46, Saturday. The Toros had allowed 78 points to Cal State Bakersfield and 85 to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but held Cal State L.A. to 39% shooting and only four offensive rebounds.

The Toros have a chance to get back into the CCAA race this week, playing Cal Poly Pomona tonight and UC Riverside Saturday. Both opponents are 2-1 in CCAA play.

Toro Coach Dave Yanai said he was pleased with the improved defense against Cal State L.A.

“Numerous times we took L.A. down to when the shot clock has six or seven seconds left,” he said.

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“I think we’ll make a defensive comeback. I talked to the team about the conference race. (In the losses) they went out on the floor and thought they could just go out and outscore the opponent and win that way. That’s not the way we play.

“We need to have a good defensive effort. We’re not the kind of team where everyone can do everything. We have a very complementary group of athletes, each contributes in his own way. We haven’t played to our strength yet. We must rebound viciously defensively.”

The next two opponents offer several challenges for the Toros’ defense: Pomona has the conference’s best player in forward Terry Ross, who leads in scoring (23.5) and rebounding (9.2), and Riverside has been running a Loyola Marymount-style offense and averaging more than 96 points. It has the CCAA’s best overall record at 14-3.

“The team knows what is ahead of it,” Yanai said. “They hurt themselves losing their first two games. We’re very capable even though we are 1-2. We like to divide the season into thirds. The first third is over. We want to be 3-1 through the next four games.”

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The Toros are 12-6 overall.

Around the WCC: Things change rapidly in the wild, wild West Coast Conference. For the third week in a row, there is a new leader in the men’s basketball race, with San Diego moving into first place at 4-1, a half-game ahead of Pepperdine (3-1).

Entering the third week of play, San Diego replaces San Francisco (3-2), which had bounced first-week leader Santa Clara (3-2). After sticking to a formula in which only one WCC champion has ever lost more than two games--and never more than three--coaches are saying this season’s race is a wide-open affair.

A pattern that seems to be forming is domination at home--with the exception of Loyola Marymount’s 0-3 record at Gersten Pavilion. WCC home teams have a 12-6 record. The biggest shocker last week was St. Mary’s last-second 57-55 upset of host Santa Clara.

Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said: “There is a tremendous amount of parity in the league from top to bottom. . . . It is imperative to take care of business at home, and win as many as possible on the road.”

Switching Gears: Loyola Marymount’s basketball team switched its shoe preference from Reebok to L.A. Gear this season, but the team has been so unhappy with the new sneakers that L.A. Gear finally sent the Lions a shipment of Nikes. The Lions have been wearing the black Nikes since the start of conference play and report they have happy feet, although they haven’t won a game since the switch.

Despite financial problems, L.A. Gear signed several high-profile teams to shoe contracts before the season--including Louisiana State--but players have not been pleased with the product. The Lions’ Brian McCloskey had a shoe fly apart while running up court in a December game, and trainers from other teams report similar incidents. L.A. Gear is supposed to ship a new, improved model soon.

Stat of the Week: After four conference games Loyola Marymount forward John O’Connell leads the WCC in field goal percentage, having made 23 of 35 shots (65.7%), including three of eight from three-point range. O’Connell’s hot streak has raised his season percentage to .503.

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Notes

Loyola Marymount’s Tricia Gibson ranks fourth nationally in blocked shots, averaging 3.5 per game. She also leads the WCC in rebounding at 10.2 per game, with teammate Joelle Longobardi third at 8.9. The Loyola women, 8-10 overall and 1-3 in conference play, visit St. Mary’s (13-5, 2-2) tonight and San Francisco (10-8, 2-2) Saturday. Two-time defending champion St. Mary’s was upset twice on the road last week, but is 7-1 at home. . . . Junior Brian Jones set a Cal State Dominguez Hills basketball team record, making all nine free throws against Cal State L.A. Teammate Robert Barksdale went eight for eight in a game last season.

The Dominguez Hills women, 13-5 overall and 0-2 in California Collegiate Athletic Assn. play, will take on nationally ranked Cal Poly Pomona at 5:45 today in Pomona. Pomona is only 10-7, but its nonconference schedule was primarily against Division I teams. The Lady Toros have never beaten the Broncos in conference play. At 5:45 Saturday, the Lady Toros play UC Riverside (8-10, 0-1) at home. . . . Center Dionne Vanlandingham leads the Lady Toros in scoring (12.4) and rebounding (10.9). . . . The Loyola men’s volleyball team has the weekend off before playing archrival Pepperdine in Malibu at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.


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