FACTS & STATS: Site: Gersten Pavilion (4,152) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: BYU 13-3, LMU 5-8. Away Record: BYU 5-5, LMU 2-12. Neutral Record: BYU 2-2, LMU 1-1. Conference Record: BYU 9-6, LMU 1-14. Series Record: Series tied, 3-3.
GAME NOTES: Following up a gut-wrenching loss at home on Thursday night, the BYU Cougars try to get back on the winning track on Saturday night, as they clash with the Lions of Loyola Marymount in West Coast Conference play at Gersten Pavilion.
Two nights ago, the Cougars had a chance to gain some major momentum with the WCC Tournament just around the corner, but the squad came up short against the second-ranked team in the nation, Gonzaga, in a 70-65 final. With the defeat, the second in as many games and the fourth in the last six outings overall, BYU finds itself tied with Santa Clara for third place in the league standings at 9-6.
Meanwhile the Lions, who actually defeated SCU back on Jan. 10 (84-80), have dropped all but one of their 15 league bouts and are all alone in last place in the WCC standings as a result. On Thursday, LMU was dealt a 79-56 setback by the Broncos on the road, the team's 13th consecutive defeat.
The Cougars entered the season trailing LMU by a game in the all-time series, 3-2, but managed to knot it up with a 92-51 blowout in the conference opener the first week of 2013 at the Marriott Center.
With only seconds remaining and trailing by just three points, the Cougars had an opportunity to possibly tie the score against Gonzaga, but Craig Cusick was fouled before he could even attempt a 3-point shot. Instead, Cusick headed to the free-throw line where he missed the first attempt and the visitors gained control again. Tyler Haws finished with 19 points, Brandon Davies 12 and a game-high 11 rebounds, followed by Cusick and Brock Zylstra with 10 points apiece.
One of the top scorers in the nation this season, Haws is pouring in 20.8 ppg for the Cougars at the moment, shooting 47.4 percent from the floor and an impressive 85.8 percent at the charity stripe. Davies checks in with both 17.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg, the latter pacing the program which has led to a rebounding advantage of almost three per game over the competition. Carlino's 10.6 ppg is secondary to his passing which has resulted in 130 assists, his quick hands accounting for 58 steals at the other end of the floor as well.
For the seventh straight game Anthony Ireland led the Lions in scoring two nights ago, posting 23 points on 8-of-22 shooting from the floor, but still the outcome was the same for LMU as it suffered the loss to Santa Clara at the Leavey Center. Alex Osborne responded with a double-double consisting of 15 points and 10 rebounds, his efforts on the glass being mirrored by Ashley Hamilton who added eight points but shot just 3-of-10 from the floor. As a group, the Lions converted 35.2 percent from the field and 28.6 percent beyond the arc while turning the ball over 17 times.
Like Haws for the Cougars, Ireland leads the charge on offense for Loyola with his 20.5 ppg. In addition, Ireland is also first on the team with 106 assists and 45 steals, adding 4.4 rpg to round out his efforts on a nightly basis. Hamilton (12.8 ppg) is the one who takes charge in the paint with close to seven rebounds per contest, but for someone who has his hands on the ball so close to the basket so often, his 39.2 percent shooting from the field is a bit disappointing.
After such a hard loss barely 48 hours earlier, the Cougars might have a tough time getting up for this last game of the regular season. However, whatever sluggishness might be there in the early going will be gone before the Lions gain any real momentum.