LAS VEGAS – Loyola Marymount abruptly halted Portland’s Tournament aspirations and advaned to play BYU with a 67-64 win in a vigorous game that was won in the last moments before the final buzzer.
This is the first time the Lions have beat the Pilots this season, the pace of the game almost getting away from the Lions. Down by 13 points early in the second half, LMU heightened its play to crawl back into the game, closing the gap to six points and regaining a little bit of control.
“The adrenaline started pumping because we don’t want to lose, so when there started to be no pressure on us we started playing full.” LMU guard Evan Payne said. “It was fun to start really playing the game towards the end.”
Head coach Max Good was more than proud of his team and players, tearing up while talking about how much the win meant to him and the program.
“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of them. These guys come out everyday and they hit the grind.”
BYU now becomes the main focus for LMU, providing a tough challenge of pace and resilience, coming to the conference with one thing on their minds: to win.
“We play the winner of LMU and Portland and honestly, I don’t really care who wins,” BYU’s sophomore guard Kyle Collinsworth said. “We’ll be ready for both teams and I am looking forward to it.”
One secret to LMU’s win was its ability to keep Portland off balance with pressure defense and taking advantage of turnovers, a method that it will most likely employ with BYU.
“BYU does play fast, they are really well coached and they don’t get deterred. They keep their poise.” Good said.
The game against the Lions will be the first for the Cougars in the conference tournament. The last time the Cougars played the Lions it was early in the season, the Lions running away with one win in Los Angeles after the Cougars got caught in a four game losing slump, while the Cougars handily took the other game in Provo. The matchup on Saturday acts as a tie-breaker between the two, this time the Cougars coming back in full swing.
“We are playing our best basketball at the right time of the year.” Tyler Haws said.
BYU, the No. 2 seed in the conference, is more confident than ever, hoping to have a presence at the tournament after getting eliminated early on last year.
The game will be this Saturday at 2 p.m. and will be broadcast live on BYUtv.