Loyola Marymount University opens its most important basketball homestand of the year tonight at 7:30 against Santa Clara, and both teams must hope it's not a free-throw contest.
The Lions, 9-9 overall and 1-2 in the West Coast Athletic Conference, are shooting only 47% from the foul line in WCAC games and are coming off a frustrating four-point loss at Gonzaga in which they made fewer than 50% of their freebies. Loyola was the WCAC's best foul-shooting team a year ago.
It hasn't been much better for Santa Clara (13-6, 2-1), which is hitting only 59% of its free throws in WCAC games. The Broncos, shooting 50% from the field for the season, are hitting only 41% in conference play and made only 37% in their loss to Pepperdine.
The Broncos still present big problems for Loyola, which has never had much luck against 7-2 center Nick Vanos and guard Harold Keeling. Vanos, averaging 16.2 points and 10.8 rebounds, scored his career high of 30 points against Loyola last year and has shot 71% in four games against the Lions.