Teams seeking a way to neutralize Loyola Marymount’s fast-paced style of play might be wise to consult Washington State Coach Kelvin Sampson.
Last season’s Pacific 10 coach of the year had the Cougars well prepared, judging by their convincing 95-84 victory over Loyola in the championship game of the first L.A. Classic tournament Saturday night at Gersten Pavilion.
Dominating play on both ends of the court, Washington State (2-0) had little trouble breaking Loyola’s press and frustrated the Lions with an aggressive man-to-man defense. The Cougars, who have all five starters back from last season’s 16-12 team, stayed in command after opening a 13-2 lead.
“I think it was important that we play Washington State basketball, in that we don’t do anything different,” Sampson said. “We run when it’s there and we set up when we have to. We want to control the tempo.”
Loyola (1-1) never got its fast break going. The Lions made only 32 of 70 field goals (46%) and fell behind by as many as 23 points in the second half. Senior guard Terrell Lowery, who set Loyola and West Coast Conference records with eight assists to give him 596 in his career, led the Lions with 21 points.
But Lowery made only seven of 20 field goals and misfired on all five of his three-point attempts, ending a streak of 35 games in which he had scored a three-point basket.
Senior guard Neil Derrick, the tournament most valuable player, led Washington State with a game-high 32 points, including three three-point shots. Senior guard Terrence Lewis added 17 points, including five three-pointers.
Loyola, which scored 77 points in the second half Friday night in a 140-110 victory over Morgan State, had only eight points through the opening 12 minutes of Saturday’s game. The Lions made nine of 27 field goals (33%) and eight of 15 free throws (53%) in the first half as Washington State opened a 41-26 lead.
Lowery led Loyola with 12 points on three-of-11 shooting in the first half, but no other Lion scored more than two. Loyola’s early frustration was reflected by a technical foul against Lowery after he missed a jump shot.
Washington State might have built a larger halftime lead, but the Cougars made only 14 of 35 field goals (40%).