GAMES NOTES: Two teams at the bottom of the West Coast Conference standings will try to climb their way up when the Pepperdine Waves square off with the Loyola Marymount Lions at Gersten Pavilion on Thursday night.
Pepperdine rides into this two-game road trip on the heels of three straight losses. The most recent setback was an 83-76 loss to Santa Clara that dropped the Waves to an even 9-9 overall, and 1-4 in league play. In terms of success on the road Pepperdine has actually had some positive results with a mark of 3-5 in away contests.
The Lions are also in the midst of a three-game slide. On Saturday the Lions were taken out by San Francisco, 62-53, in the second of back-to-back road contests for Loyola Marymount. Overall the Lions are just 8-11 this season while sitting with a mark of 1-5 against WCC competition. Loyola Marymount is 5-3 at Gersten Pavilion where it will be in its next two games against No. 10 Gonzaga and San Diego.
In recent years Loyola Marymount has dominated this conference rivalry. The Lions have won five of the last six meetings, including a series sweep last season. However Pepperdine still maintains a large advantage in the all-time series, 91-65.
Despite the 23 points Lorne Jackson dumped in, Pepperdine could not overcome the hot shooting of Santa Clara. The Waves allowed the Broncos to net 53.6 percent of their shots from the field, including 12-of-23 from beyond the arc in the loss.
Jackson's efforts against Santa Clara broke a three-game slump for Pepperdine's leading scorer. The 6-foot-2 guard (14.3 ppg) had failed to score in double figures in three straight games before the matchup with the Broncos. Joining Jackson in double figures this season are Jordan Baker (10.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.3 apg) and leading rebounder Stacy Davis (10.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg). As a team Pepperdine has not fared well offensively, ranking second to last in the conference at a mere 63.2 ppg.
Loyola Marymount really struggled to find its shot against San Francisco. The Lions hit on just 28.3 percent of their field-goal attempts in the loss and were outscored 21-6 from beyond the arc. Turnovers really hurt as well as the Lions were outscored 22-4 on points off takeaways.
On the offensive end of the floor Loyola Marymount has normally been solid enough. The Lions are scoring a respectable 70.5 points per game this season, while also ranking second in the conference in rebounds (37.2 pg). Where the issues have been primarily is on the defensive end where the Lions are surrendering 71.1 points per game on 43.1 percent shooting. It's scary to think where Loyola Marymount would be without the efforts of do-it-all guard Anthony Ireland (20.3 ppg). The 5-foot-10 junior is second in the conference in scoring, while ranking in the top 15 in both rebounds and assists. Ashley Hamilton (14.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) has also been a strong scorer and rebounder for the Lions, along with Ayodeji Egbeyemi (10.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
With how explosive Ireland and Hamilton can be on the offensive end the Lions won't have trouble putting points up against Pepperdine. The challenge will come yet again at the defensive end and with a home crowd behind it the Lions should be able to collect enough stops to win.