GAME NOTES: After nearly knocking off one of the top teams in the nation over the weekend, the San Diego Toreros now turn their attention towards the Loyola Marymount Lions as the two teams clash in West Coast Conference action at Gersten Pavilion on Monday night.
On Saturday, the Toreros were matched up against seventh-ranked Gonzaga at home and while the hosts fought hard, they still suffered the 65-63 setback. With the defeat, USD has now bowed in four straight outings after enjoying a five-game win streak. With a split of eight conference games, San Diego is all alone in fifth place in the WCC standings.
Familiar with the exploits of the nationally-ranked Bulldogs, they were the last opponent that LMU clashed with on Thursday night in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for the Lions, they were not nearly as competitive as the Toreros as they suffered an unsightly 88-43 loss. The defeat was the fifth in a row and the seventh in eight tries for an LMU squad that is now 1-7 in league play and sitting in eighth place in the standings.
The Toreros won the most recent meeting between these two programs a few weeks ago at Jenny Craig Pavilion, 78-70, but overall LMU still clings to a 43-42 edge in the all-time series.
Trailing by nine points at the break on Saturday night, the Toreros refused to back down against the Bulldogs at home and made a game of it right up until the end. Johnny Dee not only scored a game-high 21 points, he also collected seven rebounds for USD in 35 minutes of action. Dennis Kramer accounted for 10 points in just 12 minutes as he hit both of his 3-point tries and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor overall. Chris Anderson filled out his stat line with 11 assists, nine points and seven boards for the hosts as well. In conference play the Toreros have been keeping scores rather low, producing only 61.1 ppg and giving up 65.0 ppg. The squad has shot just 66.5 percent at the free-throw line in those contests, but tried to balance that out by holding opponents to 25.8 percent success beyond the arc. Dee stands as the lone double-digit scorer through eight games with 13.8 ppg.
Unlike San Diego which fought until the final buzzer, the Lions didn't stand a chance against Gonzaga last week as they fell behind immediately and trailed by as many as 47 points while shooting a mere 25.0 percent from the floor and finishing with as many turnovers (14) as field goals. Anthony Ireland was responsible for a game-high 19 points believe it or not, shooting 5-of-10 beyond the arc, but that means the rest of the roster combined to shoot only 3-of-16 out on the perimeter. Ashley Hamilton, who scored in double figures in all but one of the first 18 games, has come up short now in two of the last three after posting nine points versus the Zags. Nevertheless, in conference games Hamilton is second in scoring with 13.4 ppg, trailing only Ireland with his 17.6 ppg, although the latter has shot just 34.9 percent from the floor in those contests.
The Lions might show signs of life playing at home on Monday night and when you combine that with a USD squad that came so close to a major upset and will probably have a let-down, there is a chance for LMU although not much.
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