Portland (7-10) at Loyola Marymount (8-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gersten Pavilion (4,156) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: None. Home Record: Portland 6-2, LMU 5-2. Away Record: Portland 0-7, LMU 2-5. Neutral Record: Portland 1-1, LMU 1-1. Conference Record: Portland 0-2, LMU 1-2. Series Record: Loyola Marymount leads, 45-41.
GAME NOTES: The Loyola Marymount Lions will attempt to close out a brief two- game homestand on a high note, as they entertain the Portland Pilots in West Coast Conference action at Gersten Pavilion.
Portland was treading water after its first 12 games (6-6), but it has fallen off in recent weeks, slipping to 7-10 by dropping four of its last five matchups. Two of those losses came at the start of its WCC schedule, getting beaten by San Diego (61-50) on Jan. 3, and Pepperdine (54-47) last Saturday.
It's been a perfectly up-and-down campaign for Loyola Marymount on its way to an 8-8 overall record. The Lions' WCC slate did not open up the way they had planned, as they dropped a pair of games at BYU (95-51) and Saint Mary's-CA (74-61), but they were able to bounce back with an 84-80 come-from-behind win over Santa Clara on Thursday night.
LMU has won three straight games against Portland to improve to 45-41 in the all-time series.
The Pilots actually held a seven-point lead over Pepperdine it their latest bout, but they went ice-cold after intermission, shooting a paltry 8-of-28 from the field and 2-of-4 from the foul line on the way to their second-lowest scoring total of the year. Oskars Reinfelds contributed 11 points off the bench, while Derrick Rodgers finished with 10. Struggling from the floor has been a common theme for Portland this season, as it averages a WCC-low 61.4 ppg, which has all but spoiled its impressive effort at the defensive end where foes are hitting just 40.8 percent of their total shots. Ryan Nicholas is the team's top scoring threat at 13.2 ppg, but he converts just 39.5 percent of his field goal attempts. The 6-foot-7 forward is also the league's second-best rebounder, pulling in 9.6 caroms per contest. Kevin Bailey puts up 11.9 ppg, but he is questionable for Saturday's game as he recovers from a broken nose. Van Der Mars scores only 6.5 ppg, but he makes the most of his shot attempts as he sits with a .603 field goal percentage.
Loyola Marymount trailed Santa Clara by 11 points early in the second half, but it went on a 19-7 run to take a 54-53 lead with just over 11 minutes left, eventually holding on for the four-point win. The Lions shot a stellar 45.8 percent from the field, and they only helped their cause by putting together an outstanding night from the free throw line (21-of-25). Anthony Ireland was the catalyst, scoring 29 points, just one off his career-high set earlier this year, while also dishing out eight assists. Ashley Hamilton was impressive off the bench with 17 points and seven boards, while Ayodeji Egbeyemi chipped in 13 points. Scoring points hasn't been the issue for LMU this season, as it nets greater than 72 ppg, but it has been vulnerable at the defensive end where it surrenders 71.4 ppg. Ireland has been arguably the best player in the WCC this year, as not only does he produce 20.7 ppg at 41.5 percent from 3- point range, but he adds 5.4 rpg, 4.3 apg and 1.6 spg to his stat line. Hamilton has been strong in the frontcourt with 15.0 ppg and 7.1 rpg, as has Egbeyemi (10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.8 bpg).
LMU has been inconsistent this year, but it has enjoyed playing on its home floor, where it has won five of seven games. Even if the Lions don't put forth their best effort, they still have enough firepower to get past the struggling Pilots.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola Marymount 75, Portland 62
01/12 10:33:46 ET