Loyola Marymount University's basketball team, after taking a week off, plays UC Irvine for the second time in nine days Friday in the opening game of the Wolfpack Classic at Nevada-Reno.
The winner of that game plays the winner of the Nevada-Reno vs. Portland game Saturday for the championship, with Friday's losers playing a consolation game.
The Lions, 6-3, are coming off an 85-79 loss to UCLA following their record-setting 122-100 victory over Irvine at home last week. The point total shattered the 3-year-old Loyola scoring record of 111. In last week's game guard Keith Smith scored 34 points and forward Forrest Walton-McKenzie got 28. They remain the big guns, averaging 26.1 and 20.5, respectively.
However, coming out of the UCLA game, junior center Vic Lazzaretti is beginning to assert himself, and sophomore Mark Armstrong is on a hot shooting streak. Both may be more prominent in the offense. Lazzaretti had a career-high 15 points against UCLA, 12 in the second half when he went to the basket aggressively. He was in foul trouble last week against Irvine star center Tod Murphy. He is averaging 8.8 points and leads the starters with a 58% field goal percentage. Armstrong, who leads the team in rebounding with 9.6 per game, has shot 22 for 37 over the last five games to raise his scoring average to 8.
Irvine is 3-3. Host Reno is 3-7. Portland, one of the surprises on the West Coast this season, is 7-2 with a four-game winning streak including victories over Oregon State and Cal State Fullerton.