Lowery Sparks Loyola by USD : College basketball: Guard has 35 points and 12 assists to help Lions win, 104-102.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Loyola Marymount Coach Jay Hillock had one wish Thursday night after the Lions defeated the University of San Diego, 104-102, in a West Coast Conference game.

"I hope I don't have to play them in the (conference) tournament," he said.

In front of 2,500-plus fans at the USD Sports Center, Loyola won its ninth in a row. The lead changed hands 20 times, and there were six ties.

"Both teams played hard," Hillock said. "It was just a case of we were fortunate enough to make some plays in the end.

"We played good. They played good. We were lucky."

Terrell Lowery, a 6-2 junior point guard from Oakland, scored 35 points, had 12 assists and pulled down seven rebounds. Twenty-three of those points came in the second half as Loyola came back to equal the fourth best winning streak in school history.

Eight of those victories have come in WCC play as the Lions (15-13, 8-5) moved into a second-place tie with USD (16-10, 8-5), which lost its third in a row after having won nine of 10.

Both teams have one game remaining before the conference tournament next week. USD plays host to Pepperdine on Saturday, while Loyola travels to Santa Clara.

USD's Anthony Thomas, a 6-4 senior forward from Waterloo, Iowa, scored a career-high 31 points, making 14 of 19 shots. His previous career high was 25 when USD defeated Loyola, 98-90, in Gersten Pavilion.

Thomas' total is the most by a Torero since Marty Munn scored 37 against Loyola in 1988.

Craig Holt added 18 points for Loyola as the Lions' guards combined for 65 points.

Pat Holbert scored 16 for USD, including a three-pointer with two seconds left that put USD over the 100 mark for the third time this season.

Even with all the lead changes, USD led for a good portion of the game.

A 9-0 run by Loyola during a three-minute stretch near the end moved the Lions from trailing by three to leading by six, 100-94, with 1:06 left.

Lowery had a layup and a tip-in during the run. Freshmen Rahim Harris made two free throws and Ross Richardson, the third-leading three-point shooter in the nation, nailed one of his specialties.

A three-pointer by Holbert made it 101-99 with 14 seconds left, but Lowery made two free throws and Holt one of two to seal the victory.

USD had taken an 87-78 lead with 8:04 left on Thomas' 18-foot jumper, but it proved costly as Thomas came down hard and twisted his ankle. He had to leave the game momentarily to get taped.

"We were on a roll at that time," USD Coach Hank Egan said.

Thomas was not the only Torero with an ankle problem.

Kelvin Woods injured his right one in practice Monday, and was limited to 18 miuntes.

"If any one thing hurt us," Egan said, "it was not having Kel Woods full speed. You have someone like Kel Woods in the ballgame, we've got a threat down low. It changes things a little bit."

Nine Toreros scored between two and nine points in the first half as USD took a slim 46-45 lead into the locker room.

Thomas, who scored six of the Toreros' first 10, had the nine. Micahel Brown had eight and Reed Watson and Woods six each.

Watson started in place of Woods.

Lowery led eight Lions who scored with 12 points in the first half. Petruska scored six of their first eight but made only two more free throws by halftime.

USD, which entered the game shooting 50.4% and was once among the national leaders in that category, shot just 43.6% (17-39) in the first half compared to the Lions' 50% (18-36). Loyola also held a slight rebounding advantage, 21-20.

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