Santa Clara (12-4) at Loyola Marymount (7-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gersten Pavilion (4,152) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: Local. Home Record: SCU 9-3, LMU 4-2. Away Record: SCU 3-1, LMU 2-5. Neutral Record: SCU 0-0, LMU 1-1. Conference Record: SCU 1-1, LMU 0-2. Series Record: Santa Clara leads, 83-54.
GAME NOTES: Off to their best start since the 1997-98 campaign, the Santa Clara Broncos are trying to win for the second time in three tries in West Coast Conference action as they take on the Loyola Marymount Lions at Gersten Pavilion on Thursday night.
The Broncos began the season with an 11-2 mark, those two setbacks coming in overtime in back-to-back meetings versus Utah State and UC Santa Barbara. More recently, the team has bowed in two of the last three contests, first going down against top-ranked Duke, 90-77, on Dec. 29, and then being tripped up by 10th-ranked Gonzaga over the weekend.
Nevertheless, Santa Clara is still off to an impressive start, having recorded its 11th win of the campaign on Dec. 22 versus Wagner, earlier than any other time in program history.
As for the Lions, they've dropped their first two WCC games of the season, falling by double-digits to both BYU and Saint Mary's-CA on the road in the last week. LMU last picked up a victory on Dec. 29 when it slipped by Cal State Bakersfield at home in a 73-66 final.
The Broncos lead the all-time series between the two teams by a count of 83-54, although LMU has won the last two straight meetings. The latest victory for the Lions came in February of last year in a 68-65 final in Los Angeles.
The Broncos didn't give up easily against Gonzaga last weekend at the Leavey Center, although the hosts did send the Bulldogs to the free-throw line 21 times in the second half and that was enough to send SCU to the loss column. Kevin Foster continued to pile up the points as he tallied a team-high 29 points, although his 2-of-12 shooting behind the 3-point line was certainly suspect. Marc Trasolini accounted for 19 points and nine rebounds, followed by Evan Roquemore with 11 points and seven assists, but he too had trouble shooting the ball with just 2-of-10 accuracy from the floor. Roquemore (13.7 ppg) is not only the third-best scorer on the team this season, he is also first with 6.3 apg as well. Foster tends to shoot a bit too often, but the results are still positive with his 19.7 ppg, while Trasolini (15.9 ppg) hangs out in the paint where he has grabbed close to eight rebounds per game.
In a game that featured nine ties and six lead changes, the Lions gave themselves some hope against SMC the last time out, but eventually the Gaels blew their way to the 13-point home win in Moraga. Still, LMU had four starters score in double figures as Anthony Ireland dropped 16 points, Ashley Hamilton 15, followed by Ayodeji Egbeyemi and Alex Osborne with 10 points apiece, the latter collecting a team-best eight rebounds as well. A career 14.7 ppg scorer, Ireland is lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 20.1 ppg this season which is somewhat expected since he is playing more than 36 minutes per contest. Hamilton is good for another 14.9 ppg and is tops among rebounders with more than seven per outing, yet still finds it necessary to float out to the perimeter and try his hand at 3-point shooting (17-of-39). Egbeyemi (10.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) has provided steady support in the paint as well for the Lions.
Coming close to upsetting Duke and then hanging tough with Gonzaga should give the Broncos quite a bit of credibility, and that should carry them into the win column against LMU.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Santa Clara 79, Loyola Marymount 71
01/10 10:33:18 ET