GAME NOTES: The Loyola Marymount Lions look to climb out of the West Coast Conference cellar as they visit Firestone Fieldhouse for a grudge match against the Pepperdine Waves.
Pepperdine leads the all-time series with Loyola Marymount, 92-65. The Waves won this year's first meeting at Gersten Pavilion, ending a three-game losing streak there, and are looking to sweep the regular-season series for the first time since 2009. Last year, the Lions ended a 13-game losing streak in Firestone Fieldhouse, though the Waves are 31-9 all-time against LMU in Malibu.
The first bout between these schools in 2012-13 went down to the wire with the Waves escaping their visit to the City of Angels with a 60-57 decision. The Waves held a 11-point lead in the second stanza before LMU roared back to make it competitive in the closing minutes. Pepperdine never surrendered the lead down the stretch as Jordan Baker tallied a game-high 21 points. Anthony Ireland paced the Lions with 14 points in the loss.
The Lions are coming off a lopsided, 74-55, loss at Gonzaga in a game they were simply overmatched. The Bulldogs dominated the affair by sinking 51.1 percent of their field goal tries and going 21-of-30 at the free-throw line while limiting LMU to 29.8 percent shooting from the floor. Anthony Ireland netted 30 of the team's 55 points in the contest to lead the charge. Despite Ireland's strong senior campaign, LMU is stuck in last place in the WCC standings with a 1-10 league record as part of its 8-16 overall mark.
The Waves built a little bit of momentum over the weekend by escaping their trip to Portland with a 72-68 overtime victory. Lorne Jackson pumped in seven of his 22 points in the extra session as Pepperdine finished 25-of-61 from the field (41 percent) and 8-of-16 from 3-point range to the Pilots' 33.3 percent shooting from the floor. The win was a step in the right direction, but the four-game slide the Waves endured prior is a big reason why they sit at 11-13 on the season with a 3-8 record in league games.
Jackson is producing a career-best 14.4 ppg to guide Pepperdine through his senior year. His efforts have hardly been enough however, as the team has the second-worst scoring offense in the conference at 64.0 ppg. Defensively, the Waves are only two slots higher with 67.2 points allowed per tilt. Baker and Stacy Davis play big roles for the squad as well. Baker is the second-leading scorer with 11.3 ppg, while Davis posts 11.0 points and 7.4 boards per contest.
Ireland's refusal to quit is bound to yield another victory for LMU before his career comes to an end. This is a winnable game for the Lions as they came up just short in the first clash between these programs this year. Pepperdine will need Jackson and Baker to counteract everything Ireland does or the hosts are going to have trouble getting out the brooms.
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